James Courtney put in a strong finish at the non-championship Sprint Gas V8 Supercar Manufacturers Challenge at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday, finishing the third and final race in seventh position.

Courtney had a tough couple of days at the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit but improved in the final two races to claim points for Ford and finish 13th for the meeting.

The JELD-WEN Motorsport driver started from tenth position on the grid and moved up one position as Mark Winterbottom retired from the race, claiming another as Jamie Whincup also dropped out.

Courtney then knuckled down mid-race and with constantly improving lap times caught up with the group in front, passing Andrew Jones on lap 11. He eventually finished in seventh in the #4 car.

"We had a tough first couple of days here but the last two days we have improved," he summed-up. "In the end we had a couple of positive races and we have come away with a good straight car which we can now concentrate on making faster.

"We struggled with front braking performance in the heat today and the engine temperatures were up so we spent a bit of time looking for cool air. But everyone out there was in the same boat.

"We'll head back to the SBR workshop and evaluate the car situation; Jimmy Stone didn't come down for this race as he was concentrating on getting the new car on line.

"We might squeeze it in before Hamilton otherwise we will have it for Barbagallo. Regardless, we will have a good strong car for the next round at Hamilton, the JELD-WEN crew are looking forward to getting back on track."

Shane van Gisbergen meanwhile battled throughout the final race in the sister machine, struggling with car balance from the start.

The SP Tool Racing man started from 18th on the grid and moved up as far as 14th by lap five. As the race went on, however, the hot conditions compounded his problems, with brakes and tyres becoming an issue. The young Kiwi driver slipped back in the closing laps and crossed the line in 19th. He also finished the meeting in the same position.

"I'm pretty gutted about that race; we struggled all the way through with car balance," he noted. "We ran out of brakes in the heat and we used our best tyres in race two so I spent most of the race just trying to stay on track.

"I was fighting the car all the way, the last 10 laps I was concentrating on bringing it home. It's probably one of the hardest races I've had to do. I'm just looking forward to Hamilton now. We've got a good break so we can regroup and look at the last two weekends racing and be on it in a few weeks."

 

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