Jim Beam Racing's James Courtney has become the first to threaten the stranglehold of Jamie Whincup in the V8 Supercar Championship Series this year, intent on seeing how the pressure will affect the TeamVodafone ace in the coming weeks.
Courtney recorded his first clean-sweep of an event weekend at the City of Ipswich 300 at Queensland Raceway today when Whincup failed to finish for the first time in recent memory with an engine problem that ended his day midway through the second race.
With Whincup's fate sealed, Courtney's complete domination of the weekend moved him to within just 24 points of the Championship lead. Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander was second today with ever-impressive youngster Shane van Gisbergen third in the SP Tools Falcon.
“It would have been nice to have some poles in there too but I'm happy with two wins that's for sure. Everything is just snow-balling this year. It started to click from about halfway through last year and it's just been getting better,” Courtney said. “It's good to have that points gap closed to Jamie. Now hopefully we can put some pressure on him and see how he operates under it, it's going to be interesting.”
Courtney was far and away the best on both days with margins of more than 10 seconds, with the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx Sprint tyre suiting the racer, as well as a near perfect car, ahead of the next event at Winton Raceway in Victoria in a fortnight.
“At the moment it's working really well with the soft tyre but it might be a little different at Winton. I've never looked so forward to going to Winton in my life, I'm already counting down the days,” he said.
“It was a big test on the tyres this weekend to see how they would last and I think they surprised a lot of people. A lot of people thought we'd be wobbling around and falling off the track but they produced some good racing in the end.”
Whincup was optimistic about returning to the fold after his great run of yesterday when going from 12th to fourth and the problem of today which could not be avoided.
“Obviously I am very disappointed with the outcome today, and it felt like quite a difficult weekend as we initially lacked good car speed and then the improvements of today were holding us in good stead for a podium finish,” he said.