James Courtney at Sydney Motorsport Park. Picture: Phil Hillyard
James Courtney at Sydney Motorsport Park. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Courtney to steal win under cover of darkness

LIKE a thief in the night, James Courtney will this weekend attempt to steal his first Supercars win of the season in what promises to be the most open race of the year.

Holden star Courtney, who won the last Supercars night race in Abu Dhabi in 2011, believes the cold night-time conditions in western Sydney and the novelty of driving under temporary floodlights at Sydney Motorsport Park will open the door for other drivers to end the domination of runaway championship leaders Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen.

And with the one race of the weekend on Saturday night, Courtney says the shortened preparation time will be an advantage for his Walkinshaw Andretti United Team.

"Our strength is that we hit the track pretty strong,'' Courtney said.

"Then the others overtake us during practice and as the weekend rolls on. Maybe it will suit us to have that limited track time this weekend before the big 300-point race.

James Courtney leads the pack under lights at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in 2011.
James Courtney leads the pack under lights at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in 2011.

"It is going to be quite unique having it out night because the cars will behave quite differently. It will be very cool and the track conditions will change. It will also be the longest driving distance for a single driver so it will be a test physically.

"When you combine all those elements, it might bring some other drivers into the mix.''

The Sydney SuperNight 300 is the first Australian night race since 1997 and will be something of a childhood dream come true for the Penrith-born and bred Courtney, who is confident the Eastern Creek event will be a success.

"It is going to be unique and I am also a western Sydney boy so this is my home track," Courtney said.

"I can remember going out to watch the Winfield Triple Challenge at Eastern Creek when I was a kid. That was a night event and I am very excited about being given the opportunity to put on a similar show.

Courtney passes the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi. Picture: Mark Horsburgh
Courtney passes the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

"It will be a very cool spectacle with brakes lit up and flames coming from the exhaust. It will be a huge show.''

 

After a bright start to the season with a second-placing in Adelaide, Courtney has struggled to stay on the pace - his only other podium finish was a third in Tasmania - and is currently 12th in the drivers' championship.

"We started the year quite well before going through a dip," he said.

"But I think now we are on the rise. Ipswich (last round) was quite good and my speed was really good. I am hoping that carries on this weekend.''

Courtney hopes to go back-to-back in the dark.
Courtney hopes to go back-to-back in the dark.

SYDNEY SUPERNIGHT 300

Sydney Motorsport Park, Eastern Creek

FRIDAY

6pm: Practice

SATURDAY

1.20pm: Practice

4.20pm: Qualifying

7.20pm: Sydney SuperSprint 300 (77 laps)

Tickets: ticketek.com.au

TV: Catch all the action live on Fox Sports 506


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