Courtney hails amazing day at Sydney 500
James Courtney described Saturday at the Sydney Telstra 500 as an “amazing day”, after all three title contenders crashed in wet conditions during the closing stages of the 250km race.
Courtney was able to increase his championship lead from 53 to 113 points over Jamie Whincup ahead of tomorrow’s season finale, after his Jim Beam Racing crew successfully repaired his car in time to complete the final two laps.
While TeamVodafone also returned Whincup to the track, he completed only one more lap, and was classified as a DNF due to his final lap time not falling within the required maximum.
An exhausted Courtney later described the Lap 60 accident that also claimed Mark Winterbottom as just another twist in an incredible year.
“I don’t think the season’s ever going to finish,” he said.
“There have been so many twists and turns all year. I thought there were going to be some more twists and turns, but I never thought it’d be like this. It was an amazing day.”
Winterbottom is now officially out of the championship battle, while Courtney only needs a 22nd place finish – even if Whincup wins – in order to seal his maiden crown.
“We’ll just have to see what happens tomorrow,” he said of the championship.
“We’ve got to see how the car is. It’s taken some hard hits this afternoon, so we’ve got to go back and straighten the car out, and then see how it is in qualifying.”
Courtney also recounted the dramatic moments directly after the accident.
“My thing was stopped, it’d been hit really hard in the back,” he said.
“I switched it off, said a few colourful things and then said ‘I’m not going to end it here’.
“So I fired it back up, dropped the clutch and dragged the thing out of there and managed to hobble back. I knew if I could get it back we had some chance of salvaging something.
“I knew Jamie hit the wall but I didn’t actually think it looked that bad. So I was a bit annoyed at that point, but then the guys informed me of what was going on.
“The car never felt so good than starting that last lap, she was magic, it was a dream,” he joked.
“I can’t thank my guys enough, they’re the ones who, if we end up winning it (the championship), it’s (because of) those guys.”
Courtney was involved in an intense battle with Whincup during the middle phase of the race, with the lead exchanging hands twice on Lap 47.
“It was good there for a while, two guys fighting it out in crazy conditions,” said Courtney.
“It was a good fair battle, and hats off to him (Jamie), he’s been super clean all year and hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary or something that he shouldn’t have done.
“He drove an amazing race and it was good to be together at that point, and I was happy to be together again when we were in the pits afterwards!”
See below for exclusive Speedcafe.com.au video with championship’s top three …