COURTNEY SHOWS CHAMPIONSHIP FORM
Defending V8 Supercar Champion James Courtney didn't have the perfect start to his career with the Toll Holden Racing Team, but he still ended the first weekend of the new season in ominous form.
Driving a Bridgestone-backed Commodore in the Yas V8 400 in Abu Dhabi, Courtney was controversially docked 50 points after race one after an incident involving teammate Garth Tander and Jason Bargwanna.
However, Courtney bounced back to take a brilliant victory in race two as his engineers gambled on fuel and strategy in a race which saw a number of safety car appearances before the halfway point.
Courtney and Team BOC's Jason Bright were left to slug it out at the end, all efforts to conserve fuel forgotten as the two went wheel-to-wheel over the final three laps with Courtney describing the win as "the best of my V8 Supercar career".
"It was very special and I couldn't have asked for anything more for my baptism with the Toll Holden Racing Team - it's just been a mega day," Courtney said.
"I knew [the fuel situation] was going to be very tight when we pitted so early, but I have all the faith in the world in engineer Scott Sinclair - we have 100 per cent trust in each other and it worked out."
With Courtney and Bright first and second, the final podium was filled by two-time Champion Jamie Whincup who leaves the Middle East with the series points lead by virtue of his win in the opening race.
After a strong sixth place in the first race, Tander made it no further than the first lap of race two after becoming involved in a heavy crash started when Tony D'Alberto turned around the Falcon of Tim Slade.
The teams now head back to Australia for the Clipsal 500 around the streets of Adelaide on 17-20 March.
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER RACE 2 OF 27
|1. ||Jamie Whincup (Holden) ||279 points |
|2. ||Alex Davison (Ford) ||234 |
|3. ||Shane Van Gisbergen (Ford) ||210 |
|4. ||Mark Winterbottom (Ford) ||192 |
|12. ||James Courtney (HRT) ||127 |