Getting tighter, but HRT still confident

Championship leader Craig Lowndes celebrates with Adelaide race winner James Courtney.  Picture: GETTY IMAGES.
Championship leader Craig Lowndes celebrates with Adelaide race winner James Courtney. Picture: GETTY IMAGES.

HOLDEN Racing Team's James Courtney believes he and his team are well placed to have an impact on a category that is looking increasingly tighter as each race goes by.

With Volvo having good results, and Nissan and Mercedes also showing good signs, the monopoly that Holden and Ford have enjoyed on the category looks over.

"Triple Eight are still the benchmark team, but we're charging on," Courtney told The Examiner.

"Everyone is getting more of a grip on the car of the future, and that's why we do it, for the challenge.

"The closer the racing is, the better it is for everyone watching, but it is more work for us."

Courtney sits in fifth place in the championship with 192 points, thanks mainly to a memorable win in the third race.

The emotional victory came after his 2013 ended with a fractured tibia after his crash at Phillip Island.

HRT also had some significant personnel changes, with key technical staff Adrian Burgess and Mat Nilsson coming on board from rival teams.

These factors made the win even more special, or in Courtney's words "awesome".

The 33-year-old said he couldn't wait to return to Symmons Plains this weekend.

"To go out and drive around the place, it's actually a tricky little place, with a lot of tricky little bumps.

"It is not as straight forward as it seems, as it is pretty unique as it is two drag strips with two corners at the end, so to look at it you would think it be pretty easy to get the car right, but to hit the nail on the head is pretty challenging.

"It's definitely an exciting little circuit.

"I've had some good days and some shockers there as well, but all- in-all it has been good memories.

"We'll just have to find a little bit more car speed and then see how things pan out at the end."

Courtney's teammate Garth Tander will this weekend make his 212th event start, equal with the late Peter Brock in fifth place on the all- time list.

Tander earlier this week used social media to speak about the achievement.

"I'm still not sure what it all means when comparing modern drivers stats with past drivers stats," Tander said on Facebook. "We do a lot more races/weekends a year than they used to in the past.

"Still it's a great honour to equal the great man!"