Courtney: Set-up change ‘lit up’ car for Bend fightback
James Courtney has credited a post-qualifying set-up change for his impressive come from behind run to the top 10 in the opening race at the OTR SuperSprint.
After qualifying just 24th, Courtney carved his way through the field to climb to eighth after just five laps.
The Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing Commodore then maintained the position for the balance of the race, achieving a net 16 place gain.
“I’m not going to lie, I had a lot of fun,” said Courtney.
“The thing was really hooked up in the start and straight after the Safety Car as well.
“I said to the boys on the radio I said this thing’s hooked up better than it was in qualifying.
“Obviously something we changed for the race really lit the thing up. It was really quite quick. Just with Will (Davison) I didn’t quite have the speed in the right spots to get past him.”
Courtney dropped to ninth after he stopped under the Safety Car, and passed Jamie Whincup for eighth as racing resumed.
He couldn’t maintain that pace and was forced to cede the spot back to the Red Bull driver, though a move on Chaz Mostert the following lap saw him reclaim eighth.
The remainder of the race was spent tucked up behind Davison’s Milwaukee Racing Falcon.
It’s a result that has filled Courtney with confidence heading into Sunday’s 200km race, with a comparatively short list of set-up changes needed.
“Into (Turn 1) is probably the worst sector for us,” Courtney said.
“As we’re trying to get in there, it’s just that last little bit, it’s just a little bit nervous in the rear – you don’t have that confidence to turn it in.
“(We) Just need to calm down that initial point in the rear and get a bit more stability there and then that’ll clean up the first sector but apart from that it was really good.
“Turn 6 is just ridiculous now, the thing is loaded, it hooks really good. It’s nice when it’s like this. Its good fun. It just needs to be qualifying.”
Across the garage Scott Pye also moved forward, ending the race 18th after starting 23rd, his progress stunted after double-stacking behind Courtney during the Safety Car.
“We passed 10 cars before the pit stop and lost five with traffic in the lane and we got back to 18th and that is where we finished,” Pye told Speedcafe.com.
“Everyone was defending like mad on the start and I don’t know what the rule was this weekend obviously there isn’t one but it was crazy.
“It was just a 24 lap race that was pretty straight forward for us and it was a shame that we qualified so bad.”
“I’m really frustrated with our qualifying and one lap speed,” he added.
“I thought we were good through practice and then qualifying was an odd one and it has to change.”
The Supercars field will head back out on track on Sunday morning for Race 23 Armor All Qualifying at 1050 local time.