Courtney: Bathurst return “pretty hairy”

James Courtney says his first day of action at Mount Panorama in two years was “pretty hairy”, particularly given the increased lap speeds since his last Bathurst 1000.

Courtney: Bathurst return “pretty hairy”
James Courtney and Jack Perkins, Holden Racing Team
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

Courtney missed The Great Race last year after being injured in a bizarre helicopter-related incident in pitlane at Sydney Motorsport Park a couple of months earlier.

That means today was his first day of proper track action at the fierce Mount Panorama circuit in two years, something he says caught his attention.

“It’s pretty hairy when you go for your first flyer across the top of the hill,” said Courtney. “It gets your attention.

“It was disappointing to miss it last year, and see these guys have a lot of fun.

“The track is a hell of a lot quicker than a couple of years ago when we came here, so the speed across the top of the hill is a lot higher than it was two years ago. I’m really enjoying it.”

Courtney finished the day with the 10th best time.

Whincup not fussed by increased pace

Courtney’s reference to increased lap speeds came on a day when Jamie Whincup set the fastest ever time seen on the Thursday of a Bathurst 1000 weekend.

Whincup backed up his 2m05.950s from this morning’s first session with a stunning 2m05.294s in this evening’s third session. Compared to last year, that’s a gain of 0.372s in the first session of the weekend, and 0.178s on the best time of the day overall.

Despite the scorching pace on show so early in the weekend, Whincup says he’s not got his sights set on the practice record of 2m04.909s that he set last year.

“[You] just got as quick as you can,” he said after the third session this evening.

“It all comes down to conditions and what the track does overnight. If it cools down it will certainly be faster, but it’s predicted to get warmer as the weekend goes on.

“You don’t drive to a number, you just drive to be quicker than everyone else.”

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