V8 Supercars championship leader James Courtney has seemingly arrested his slide in form and luck over the last few rounds of the season with an excellent win in an interrupted and shortened second race of the Norton 360 Challenge at Melbourne’s James Courtney won the second race at SandownSandown Raceway.

The Jim Beam Racing driver has seen his championship lead steadily whittled away over the last few rounds as a combination of poor form and luck have allowed championship rivals Jamie Whincup and Mark Winterbottom back into the championship mix.

And again it seemed that Courtney would lose more of his points margin to his rivals as he ran behind them in the opening stages of the race, which was led by Russell Ingall, who backed up his Race 1 pace with another strong showing in his Holden.

But Courtney’s fortunes changed when the race was red-flagged at half-distance after a huge accident between Michael Caruso and Will Davison: the former ran into the back of the latter at the end of the back straight, resulting in another colossal accident at the same spot where Garth Tander had caused a red flag stoppage in Race 1.

Fortunately both drivers were unhurt – although their cars were comprehensively destroyed – and the race got underway with a reshuffled grid for the remaining (shortened) 26 laps with Shave van Gisbergen and Dean Fiore occupying the front row by dint of their running positions at the time of the stoppage, when many drivers had used the stoppage to pit for fresh tyres.

But Courtney was back on the attack at the resumption of the race, overtaking Winterbottom for the lead with 16 laps to go en route to a well-earned victory.

Winterbottom had to use the rest of his racing laps to fend off the advances of Jamie Whincup, who himself had Lee Holdsworth chewing on his rear bumper.

Steven Johnson and Tim Slade finished right up the order in fifth and sixth, having benefits enormously from the race stoppage to vault up the order, while polesitter (and Race 1 winner) Paul Dumbrell climbed up to seventh place after finding himself starting 18th at the restart.

The championship’s final event will be the Telstra Sydney 500 in a fortnight’s time, staged on a makeshift street circuit around the former Olympic Games complex. With 300 points up for grabs, Courtney’s 53-point lead over Whincup is certainly pretty handy, while Winterbottom will be praying for issues to his two chief rivals, as he is 203 points behind Courtney in the title race.


Race 2 Final Classification:

  Driver   Team Result
1. James Courtney Ford Jim Beam Racing 1:51:43.6234
2. Mark Winterbottom Ford Ford Performance Racing + 1.5543
3. Jamie Whincup Holden Team Vodafone + 1.8574
4. Lee Holdsworth Holden Fujitsu Racing / GRM + 1.8616
5. Steven Johnson Ford Jim Beam Racing + 8.8961
6. Tim Slade Ford Wilson Security Racing + 8.9333
7. Paul Dumbrell Ford The Bottle-O Racing Team + 11.6387
8. Rick Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s Racing + 12.9653
9. Jonathon Webb Ford Dick Johnson Racing + 15.3057
10. Greg Murphy Holden Castrol Edge Racing + 16.1227
11. Craig Lowndes Holden Team Vodafone + 20.6449
12. Fabian Coulthard Holden Bundaberg Red Racing + 25.5798
13. Russell Ingall Holden Supercheap Auto Racing + 26.5637
14. Tony D’Alberto Holden Centaur Racing + 27.5928
15. Steven Richards Ford Ford Performance Racing + 32.5498
16. Andrew Thompson Holden Bundaberg Red Racing + 34.3127
17. Garth Tander Holden TOLL Holden Racing Team + 35.8038
18. Dean Fiore Ford Triple F Racing + 41.9568
19. Todd Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s Racing + 43.5908
20. Jason Bargwanna Holden ROCK Racing + 44.1410
21. Alex Davison Ford IRWIN Racing + 44.3350
22. Karl Reindler Holden Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing + 1 lap
23. Tony Ricciardello Holden Stratco Racing + 2 laps
24. Jason Bright Holden Trading Post Racing + 9 laps
  Not Classified      
  Shane van Gisbergen Ford SP Tools Racing 58 laps
  Andrew Jones Holden Team BOC 37 laps
  Will Davison Holden TOLL Holden Racing Team 31 laps
  Michael Caruso Holden Fujitsu Racing / GRM 31 laps
  Warren Luff Holden Gulf Western Oil Racing 19 laps

[Original image via V8 Supercars official website]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.