Courtney predicted high tyre degradation during Tasmania race

James Courtney

James Courtney expected tyre degradation would be a factor in the opening race of the weekend at the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint.

Racing his way to third, Courtney adopted a strategy which saw him run deep into his first stint, stopping on Lap 17, before climbing up the order in the second half of the race.

The Walkinshaw Andretti United (WAU) driver ultimately came home third, while team mate Scott Pye crossed the line eighth after stopping on Lap 22.

Red Bull Holden Racing, however executed a vastly different strategy, bringing Shane van Gisbergen in out of the lead on Lap 5.

The Kiwi was left struggling though towards the end of his stint, dropping to sixth as he suffered from heavy tyre wear in the closing stages.

Courtney explained that the Clayton-based operation were well aware of the high tyre degredation heading into the race, and deliberately chose to pit Pye and himself later than other teams.

“This morning (in practice) we ran the whole 20 minutes so we went out and just did race runs,” said Courtney.

“We worked on the car and got a good idea what tyre deg was.

“We were ready, we knew it was going to blow the tyres up a lot more than what is had previously that’s why both of our cars ran quite deep into the race.

“I think it payed off doing that run this morning and sacrificing maybe a little tuning for qualifying. In the end it was good.”

A drama in the pit stop cost Pye time, with the Holden driver struggling to get away from his box after having trouble with the clutch and anti-stall.

Pye ultimately recovered to finish inside the top ten, though despite the pit stop blunder, Courtney believes the spirit and strength within the team is still at a high after its recent turn in performance.

“Previously we’ve been good at street circuits, then it’s gone to crap,” explained Courtney.

“So it’s good that we were quick at the Grand Prix, Scotty managed to get that win. We were quite speedy all weekend as well and here, (we got) both cars in the top ten easily.

“Scott had a drama in the pit stop…(but) It’s great, confidence in the team is really good.

“The engineering group is really quite tight now and there’s a lot of confidence building in there now. Carl (Faux) has been the king pin in all that and he’s strengthening that group and getting a good understanding of what the car is and the tyre because it’s all very new for him.

“Just developing the car and trying to chase these guys down. I think we’ve still got a little way to go, but it’s good to roll out and have something that’s consistently, competitive and predictable, so it makes our job a lot easier.”

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will return to the circuit on Sunday for final practice at 09:55 AEST ahead of Qualifying and Race 8.