Courtney: Championship ‘nowhere near over’
James Courtney is confident that the Holden Racing Team remains a championship contender this season, despite a form slump in recent events.
In stark contrast to the flying Prodrive Fords, the factory Holden team has struggled for qualifying pace across much of the season to date.
Courtney’s consistency over the last two events has at least kept the former champion in the picture while the team works to solve its weakness.
Currently on a run of seven consecutive top eight finishes, Courtney is fifth in points, 371 adrift of runaway leader Mark Winterbottom at the halfway point of the season.
“There’s still seven rounds to go and 300 points for each weekend so there’s still a lot more to play for,” said Courtney.
“I think the championship’s nowhere near over, we can still win this thing so we’re pushing 100 percent for that.
“The other guy (Winterbottom) had this much of a lead last year and the field was able to chase him down so the enduro side of the season could really turn that on its head.
“We’re pretty confident we’ve had a really good turn of events since the last weekend and we think we’ve got a good direction on the car.
“I’m going into this second phase of the season really with a lot more confidence and I think we can really bring this thing home.”
Team-mate Garth Tander sits eighth in the standings, a further 109 points behind Courtney, but is also optimistic of a strong second half of the season.
“We’re focusing really heavily at the moment on our qualifying performance,” said Tander.
“We feel that our race performance is very strong so if we can give ourself a fighting chance at the start of the race at the front of the field, then the work that the guys have been doing with strategy and pitstops and race pace, we’ll be strong.
“We feel we can capitalise on that if we start a bit closer to the field, put a bit of pressure on those that are battling for the championship.
“We’re a little bit behind the outright championship lead but we can certainly get both cars back inside the top five pretty quickly and then after a successful Bathurst hopefully we’re back in championship contention as well.
“Certainly we’re pushing very hard at the moment to get ourselves right back in the championship hunt.”