Tickford boss hails Courtney debut ‘a great start’

James Courtney

Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards has commended the efforts of James Courtney on his debut with the team at the “hardest track” to learn his new Ford Mustang.

Courtney’s return to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship with a two-day event gave him very little time to get accustomed to his Mustang.

Walkinshaw Andretti United, the team for which Courtney raced with since 2011, even helped with his transition from the four-door Holden Commodore to the two-door Ford Mustang.

Speaking with Speedcafe.com after the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint, Edwards said he was buoyed by Courtney’s performance given the short lead time into the event.

“Considering he drove the car for the first time (on Saturday), just think about that. To do as well as he did and get a top 10 in one of the races, it was a great start,” said Edwards.

“He’s still got a lot to learn about the team and it takes time. We always talk about that bond between the engineer and the driver, for them to understand each other.

“So he’s got to learn about the car, how it behaves, over a stint, the degradation of the tyres and things.”

Courtney’s weekend was highlighted by a strong start in the first practice session of the event, which saw him as high as second in the order on used tyres.

On fresh tyres, he made a mistake and flat-spotted a tyre at Turn 2, which curtailed his run in the latter half of the session.

With limited track time, Courtney qualified 21st, 15th, and 18th across the three races and went on to make improvements of 12th, ninth, and 14th respectively in the 32-lap races.

Courtney was happy with how he went having only had two 30-minute practice sessions before qualifying and racing.

“I learnt a lot, I still have a lot to learn, but a top 10 and three top 15s, I’m pretty happy with it,” he said.

“Having never tested the car, I never even sat in it until we got here, then have three races and move forward in all three is pretty good.

“The team and the driver group here couldn’t have been more welcoming, they’ve been really helpful and want to get me up to speed, so it’s been a good first weekend, and hopefully more to come.”

Having got through the weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park, a track known for its high tyre degradation, Edwards said the next round at Winton Motor Raceway should be easier.

“It was probably the hardest track in the country to go to with degradation and the new car,” he said.

“Drivers always learn how to deal with that with a particular car and its characteristics. And he went to the hardest degradation track in the country as his debut.

“I think at Winton he’ll be a lot more comfortable in the car and obviously doesn’t have that same level of degradation. So I’m very, very happy with how he went.”

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship returns with the Truck Assist Winton SuperSprint on July 18-19.

Supercars is set to be joined by the combined Dunlop Super2 Series/Super 3 Series, Porsche Payce Carrera Cup Australia, and Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series.

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