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Courtney dismisses Heimgartner criticism: ‘Has he ever won anything?’

Daniel Herrero Tom Howard

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Saturday 26th October, 2019 - 8:00pm

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James Courtney drives away from the scene of the crash with Andre Heimgartner pic: Fox Sports

James Courtney has dismissed Andre Heimgartner’s criticism after their spectacular late-race clash by highlighting the Kelly Racing driver’s lack of wins in Supercars.

Courtney, who was adjudged to be at fault when he made contact with Heimgartner which turned Car #7 into the wall in Race 26 in Surfers Paradise, delivered a stinging barb when asked how to respond to Heimgartner’s comments about the incident.

“If I gave a crap what he thought about… I couldn’t be bothered reading it,” Courtney told Speedcafe.com.

“What has he done? Has he ever won anything? Has he won a race yet? Not yet.”

The Walkinshaw Andretti United driver had been on a charge after pitting for fresh tyres during the only Safety Car period of the opening race of the Vodafone Gold Coast 600.

He gave the eighth placed #7 Altima a nudge exiting the Turn 4 hairpin on Lap 98, before they tangled and Heimgartner went hard right, into the wall.

Heimgartner, who has one Pirtek Enduro Cup podium to his name as a co-driver and got his first in the Supercars Championship as a solo driver earlier this year, brought the battered Nissan back to pit lane and retired.

Car #22 was issued a drive-through penalty for a driving infringement before Courtney took the chequered flag as the last car on the lead lap in 12th.

“It’s pretty disappointing when you get tipped in the fence,” said the New Zealander, who reportedly gestured to Courtney in pit lane post-race.

“That sort of driving standard is pretty bad; I don’t know, I couldn’t believe it when it happened.

“He hit me once and then I thought he may back out and try let me recover but he just kept his foot in it and drove me straight in the fence after just smashing into the back of me coming out of that last corner.

“From what the guys were telling me that’s pretty standard, how he was driving in that last stint, just punting people out of the way.

“The disappointing thing is he probably would have got past eventually because he had better tyres but he obviously wasn’t patient enough to wait and decided to just fence me, so I don’t know.”

Courtney claimed he should not have been penalised, reasoning that the contact had to have occurred because Heimgartner moved across on him despite there being an overlap between the Altima and the ZB Commodore.

“There was an overlap twice,” he said.

“The first time, I let him off when he turned across; the second time, I got back up alongside him – you can see on the replay there’s an overlap – and he just keeps coming.

“I went over to the wall and couldn’t go any further and he just kept coming. Once we touched, he came across the front of me then and got done; well, he was done and in the wall.

“The ruling is, if there’s an overlap, you’ve got to give the guy room and obviously he didn’t do that so he ended up spinning around.”

Car #22 had already been forced to serve a 15-second hold penalty after co-driver Jack Perkins made early-race contact with Tony D’Alberto.

The penalty prompted WAU to put Perkins off-sequence and he drove 58 laps out of the 102, before Courtney continued their recovery and sat 10th when the Safety Car was called.

While Car #22 pulled into the lane, the #2 ZB Commodore of Scott Pye/Warren Luff stayed on-track and in fifth position for the remainder of the race.

“Jack did an amazing job,” said Courtney.

“I think his penalty was pretty harsh as well so he did a really good job fighting and coming back, and then the guys did a really good job with strategy and it’s just a shame that at the end ruined it.

“We could have had two cars in the (top) six; bit disappointing. Anyway, it is what it is and we’ll press on tomorrow.”

Heimgartner and co-driver Bryce Fullwood have two DNFs on the trot after the former clouted the wall on Lap 158 of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, having lost track position due to a fumbled radio call.

“(In the) last two races, we’ve had a fast car and would have got some good points again there, but what can you do?” said Heimgartner.

“It’s just one of those things.”

The next session is Armor All Qualifying for Race 27, tomorrow at 0955 local time/1055 AEDT.

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