Courtney: Qualifying improvement critical to title

James Courtney

James Courtney

James Courtney must improve his qualifying form if he is to have a shot at a second V8 Supercars title this season, the Holden Racing Team star admits.

Courtney sits sixth in the standings ahead of this weekend’s Coates Hire Ipswich Super Sprint, 290 points behind leader Mark Winterbottom.

The 2010 champion finished second in the most recent race at Townsville earlier this month, fighting through from a lacklustre 16th on the grid.

Courtney has failed to qualify inside the top five in 11 of the last 12 races, recording an average starting position across the period of just 9.8.

The struggle comes against a mighty run from Prodrive, which has repeatedly swept the top places in qualifying at recent meetings.

Taking into account all 17 races to date, Mostert has the best average starting position (4.6) ahead of Winterbottom (5.5), David Reynolds (6.6), Shane van Gisbergen (7.3) and Courtney (7.8).

Courtney’s Walkinshaw stable-mates meanwhile sit even further down the qualifying pecking order with averages of 11.8 (Garth Tander), 12.6 (Tim Slade) and 15.3 (Lee Holdsworth).

“The biggest thing we have to work on to put us back in the championship hunt is qualifying,” said Courtney ahead of Ipswich.

“At the moment we seem to have either a good qualifying car or a good race car.

“Clipsal is the only place we have managed to nail both and we got a pole and a win. So between the races we have really been focusing on that.

“We’ve been struggling to get a lot of feeling from the tyre on that one lap,” he continued.

“I require a lot of feeling through the steering wheel when I’m pushing for a good qualifying lap and I need as much information coming back through the wheel as I can.

“We’ve been struggling with getting the amount of information for me to get the performance I want.”

Courtney started the year with four podiums from the opening five races, but did not see the rostrum again until the Sunday race in Townsville.

He is the reigning Sunday winner at Queensland Raceway, taking out the 200km encounter after recording fifth and 10th place results in the Saturday sprints.

“We typically have been quite good in the long races so Sunday should be ok, it’s just more so managing the 60/60 on Saturday,” he added.

“We will have to work on really getting a good qualifying car so we can maximise that race on Saturday.”

V8 Supercars 2015 Qualifying Averages 

Chaz Mostert 4.6
Mark Winterbottom 5.5
David Reynolds 6.6
Shane Van Gisbergen 7.3
James Courtney 7.8
Jamie Whincup 7.8
Craig Lowndes 8.4
Fabian Coulthard 8.8
Scott McLaughlin 10.5
Garth Tander 11.8
Will Davison 11.9
Rick Kelly 12.3
Tim Slade 12.6
Jason Bright 13.8
Michael Caruso 14.0
Andre Heimgartner 14.6
Todd Kelly 15.0
James Moffat 15.0
Lee Holdsworth 15.3
Scott Pye 15.8
Dale Wood 18.5
Nick Percat 18.5
Ashley Walsh 19.7
David Wall 22.9
Tim Blanchard 23.7

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