Photographer: Walkinshaw Andretti United/ Supercars
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TOP FIVE IN TASSIE

James Courtney finished fifth the first race of the weekend at the Tasmanian SuperSprint today, while Scott Pye climbed up to 12th.

Importantly, it’s the team’s first top five of the year, and while we would have liked it sooner, it shows the progression made over the past few rounds.

The sun was shining down on Tasmania today, with a 120km, 50-lap race the hero.

After a final practice session this morning, cars headed into the three stage knockout qualifying session.

Due to being inside the top-10 yesterday, JC automatically advanced to stage 2, while Scott started in stage 1.

He fell agonisingly short of progressing, finishing sixth, with the top five going through. Amazingly, he and Percat in fifth did exactly the same time, a 51.0200, but as Percat did the lap first, his was above Scott’s, meaning car 2 would start from 16th.

JC advanced into stage 3, before setting the sixth fastest time, which is where he started the race.

When the green flag dropped, both JC and Scott kept their noses clean amongst some first lap tension.
 
It was a one-stop race, with no fuel, which means time in pit lane is crucial.

JC was the first car to stop on lap 16, popping out in clear air while jumping past Reynolds in the lane, who had a slower stop.

Scott stopped at the half-way point of the race, hoping for the new tyre advantage at the end.

In the closing stages, JC was able to maintain the gap to Reynolds and take fifth, while Scott couldn’t find a way past the group of cars in front, at a track that can be very tricky to move forward.

Overall, there were clear positives to take from the day. We now look to Sunday, moving further forward on both sides of the garage, and a 200km race to round out the weekend.

JAMES COURTNEY

“Was great to be up there today, fighting in the top 5.

“We’ve made some positive steps, the car is getting better, but the work doesn’t stop.

“The guys did a great job on strategy and in the lane today, so a big thanks to them.

“Now we look forward to tomorrow, and aim even higher.”

SCOTT PYE

"It's a tough place to pass, and we found that out today unfortunately.

“Qualifying wasn’t good enough, so we need to address that overnight.

“We know the race pace of the car is good, we can race up the front so we just need to start there.

“I’m looking forward to having another crack tomorrow.”