James Courtney plans to have the last laugh

LAINE CLARK
Last updated 10:44 06/07/2013
James Courtney
Getty Images
LAST LAUGH: Former champion James Courtney plans to have the last laugh this weekend.

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He may have copped a cheeky dig after impressing at V8 Supercars practice in Townsville on Friday but it seems former champion James Courtney plans to have the last laugh this weekend.

Holden driver Courtney somehow overcame broken shock absorbers (dampers) to post the third-fastest practice time ahead of this weekend's north Queensland round.

But when the man who has not scored a V8 win in 15 months arrived at the post-practice press conference, one wag called out: "Who are you?"

Without missing a beat Courtney replied: "You may have heard of me - I was pretty good at a time".

The 2010 V8 champion may yet be the name on everyone's lips at this weekend's Townsville round judging by his stirring practice effort.

His Holden team were forced to fly in new shock absorber parts from Melbourne on Friday night after all three of their drivers were affected by damper dramas.

Teammate Garth Tander missed most of Friday's practice session due to the problem and finished with the 26th fastest time while it also caused headaches for fellow Holden driver Russell Ingall - preparing for a record 226th race start on Saturday - who was 27th quickest.

Yet Courtney still impressed in his Commodore (one minute, 13.29 seconds) to trail just Ford young gun David Reynolds (1:13.14) and flying Kiwi Scott McClaughlin (1:13.19).

"We had a few issues this morning with damaging dampers so we couldn't run the damper we wanted in the front," Courtney said on Friday.

"We had to run the old spec and then fly some parts up tonight to rectify that for tomorrow.

"So our speed (in practice) was probably a little off where it should be.

"We have changed the front of the car drastically and this is the first time we have come to a track where we use so much kerb.

"Hopefully we can run the correct damper we want to run in the car tomorrow and get a little more speed."

While Courtney's Holden Racing Team have not savoured victory since the 2011 Bathurst 1000, they are becoming competitive again.

Courtney not only grabbed a pole position at the last round in Darwin, he twice finished on the podium.

However, Courtney - who sits ninth in the drivers' standings - knew who the drivers were to beat this weekend.

Defending champion Jamie Whincup (15th fastest) and Holden teammate - and nearest championship rival - Craig Lowndes (19th) struggled at practice but were not fooling Courtney.

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"We are not thinking they will be down the back wobbling around. They will come out in the 10 and pushing us," he said.

"(But) it's nice to be swinging the hammer with them and not looking on from a distance."

The first of the weekend's two 200km races starts at 1535 AEST on Saturday.

- AAP

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