First race. First podium.
The Mobil 1 HSV Racing team hit the starting grid for the first time in their new chapter today, with 250km around the streets of Adelaide ahead of them.
For James Courtney, the 2017 journey started very positively, steering the #22 car to third after 78 laps, while Scott Pye showed fantastic race pace to move up to 16th by the end of the afternoon.
After a fast, but tidy shootout lap, Courtney started the #22 car out of fourth, while Scott Pye was out of 18.
A blistering start by Courtney saw him three wide with Van Gizbergen and Coulthard into turn 1, before slotting into third for the first stint.
He and Coulthard were inseparable all day, running nose to tail for the entire race. In the end though, track position won out, with JC unable to find the clear air required to get past the #12 despite being all over his rear bumper for the last stint.
For Pye, a slow start put him back in 20th after the first lap, but determined to get back in the game, he put his head down and went to work.
With times consistently in the top five drivers on track, he pegged his way back up the order throughout the race, before settling for a hard earned 16th.
With drivers battling cockpit temperatures of over 50 degrees, it was a taxing race both mentally and physically.
Both will recharge the batteries overnight, rehydrate, and get ready for qualifying at 10:50am local time, before another 250km race at 3:20pm.
From the cockpit
“My eyes are burning a little bit, but today was good. You train for it, we all know it’s coming, so it’s just about staying hydrated while you’re driving.
“It was frustrating being stuck behind Fabian. I got a good start, was on the outside, but thought better of going three wide around turn 1.
“I thought about having a lunge at Shane when Fabian did, but I thought it’s a long year, so I slotted in behind and hoped we could get them on strategy.
“It could have been different if we got past and had clean air, but that didn’t happen.
“It’s a shame the safety car didn’t come out a lap earlier when we were in pit land, it gave Red Bull a chance to add some extra fuel an undercut us.
“In the end it’s a good run, a good bag of points, and a good result for Mobil 1 HSV Racing. It’s a good way to start the year.
“For me, qualifying wasn’t great yesterday, I didn’t get the best out of the car. Practice was good, so going into qualifying I was confident of a top 10.
Fortunately, today was a long race. I got a good feel for the car. We adjusted a lot in car, and played with a huge amount of set up for me to learn about how this car works.
“It’s a difficult car to get right, but when you do it’s fast, as we saw with James today. Having a race under my belt helps, it was a solid result, but now I go in tomorrow with a straight car and more understanding.”