It’s safe to say, no one really expected Courtney and Perkins to challenge at the sharp end of the field at the Castrol Gold Coast 600, but fast forward on nine weeks from the horrific injuries Courtney suffered at Sydney Motorsport Park, he and Jack Perkins took to the streets of Surfers Paradise to give the rest of the field a strategic masterclass in race two of the weekend.
Since his championship win and subsequent move across to HRT in 2010, Courtney’s V8SC career has bought him little of the success he and the rest of the paddock expected after a move to Australia’s most decorated and famous racing team. But as the Gold Coast 600 showed, with the right machinery and a stroke of strategic genius, the driver which so famously won the 2010 title with DJR remains exactly the same after five seasons of HRT playing second fiddle to Triple Eight.
Courtney’s victory wall the more meaningful and impressive considering the pain he drove through to bring the number 22 Commodore to the finish, with Courtney revealing just how much pain he was in at Bathurst two weeks before. With Tander and Luff coming through to claim the Pirtek Enduro Cup, HRT enjoyed one of their standout weekends of 2015 on the streets of the Gold Coast and with Walkinshaw Racing switching to just two cars in 2016, hopes will be high for a repeat of their Enduro success over many weekends next year.
Courtney has come under occasional critisism from some in the V8SC paddock over the last few seasons, and often unfairly on the V8SC forums however Gold Coast was a timely reminder to his detractors as to just why he was crowned champ in 2010. The fuel saving masterclass which Courtney gave during the final quarter of the race was a lesson not many drivers could give and to pull off that feat under pressure from some very fast combo’s behind, just weeks after suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung is a somewhat superhuman achievement.
The cherry on top for both Courtney and HRT was the fact that Courtney’s victory also happened to give an obviously emotional Jack Perkins his first, long awaited V8SC win. You only needed to be watching the TV cameras on the HRT garage in the final few laps of Sunday’s race to grasp just how much victory meant to Perkins and his family, and I’m sure there’s not one person in the V8SC community who wasn’t happy to see Perkins atop the podium after many years service to the sport.
The camaraderie between Courtney and Tander at HRT is a rare treat in Motorsport these days, with both drivers happy to give as good as they get to each other on track, even if it does mean a public reprimand from team principal Adrian Burgess after the race, such was the case at the Gold Coast. All to often in top level motorsport these days, and most notably Hamilton and Rosberg at Mercedes F1, even the slightest contact between two teammates is followed by days of bickering and stories in the press. We can be thankful that there is at least one team and driver pairing that are still happy to go for the “all guns blazing” approach on track, and there certainly are a few more teams who could learn from HRT’s approach.
There were many more highlights in what was, to all intents and purposes a fantastic V8 Supercars season, and we’ll address some more of our favourites in due course. However, for today we’ll leave you with a little reminder of Courtney’s famous comeback win.