Posts Tagged ‘Dallara F302 Toyota’

James Courtney’s Dallara F302 Toyota-Toms races to a good win in the first leg of the Fiftieth Macau Grand Prix on 16 November 2003…

He also led the second leg, and set the weekend’s fastest lap until a puncture eliminated him on the races eleventh lap, Nicholas Lapierre won, and having finished second in the contest’s earlier race won the GP overall- the field included later F1 drivers/test pilots Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nelson Piquet Jnr, Robert Kubica and Ryan Briscoe, a total of thirty contestants in all.

One of the British F3 Championships top runners in 2001 and 2002, James was rebuilding his career after a massive, very high speed shunt at Monza aboard an F1 Jaguar R3 Cosworth came close to ending his life.

That year he was mixing an F3 campaign in Jaguar’s team with Grand Prix car test duties- his F3 season started with a bang- he won the first round of the British F3 Championship.

Courtney, Jaguar R3 Cosworth at Silverstone in 2002 as is the shot below. Malcolm Oastler designed car was launched on 4 January that year

Race drivers for Jaguar in 2002 were Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa, the cars designated R3/R3B were powered by Cosworth CR-3 and CR-4 3 litre 72 degree V10s.

The team were testing at Monza on July 2- the circuit at which James made his F1 test debut the year before when he suffered a rear suspension failure at 10.14 am-  he was on the brakes at 330 kmh when a wishbone pulled away from its gearbox mounting, pitching him into the barriers at 306 kmh- the machine hit the fence so hard that it bounced away from the wall at 70 kmh- the impact was estimated to have a force of 67G, an incredible impact for the body to absorb.

Unconscious, his first sight was Michael Schumacher who was testing his Ferrari at the same time- James freaked out when he found he could not move the right side of his body and was bleeding from his eyes.

He later said ‘It took me a year to recover, i couldn’t walk without getting a migraine- which anything would set off.’ He also said that he could not see for weeks after the accident, and that he decided at that point never to be scared of having a crash again, stating ‘Its over if you are scared. Its all or nothing’ in an amazing exercise of mind over matter.

He did test again the following year but his F1 chance was gone.

The young Australian, born in Penrith between Sydney and the Blue Mountains on 29 June 1980 was amongst the brightest of young kids with the most prodigious of raw ability amongst his generation and the steepest of career trajectories.

In Karting he won locally before finishing second in the 1994 Australian National Kart Championship, at 15 he moved to Italy to pursue a racing career winning the World Junior Karting Championship and CIK International Championship in 1995 and was World Formula A champion in 1997.

Into 1999 he shifted from Italy to England to race cars becoming a member of the works Duckhams Van Diemen Team finishing fifth in the British FF Championship, in fourth was fellow Aussie Marcos Ambrose, the title won by Nicholas Kiesa’s Mygale. In addition he was second in the Formula Ford Festival- he went all the way in 2000  winning the championship aboard a works Van Diemen.

A veritable youth or kid- date and Kart spec welcome? (Aaron Noonan/an1images.com)

Courtney’s skills and Allan Gow’s management bagged him a place in the Jaguar Junior Team for 2001 contesting the British F3 Championship driving a Dallara 301 Mugen-Honda.

Whilst he won at the Silverstone season opener it was consistency which placed him fourth in the title chase won by Taka Sato from Anthony Davidson and Derek Hayes. In a year of dominance Sato won twelve of the twenty-six races- all three of the drivers raced Dallara 301 Mugen Hondas.

British F3 Championhip, last round- Silverstone, 29 September 2001, Dallara F301 Mugen-Honda. A pair of fourths that weekend, Taka Sato the winner of the race and championship (P Spinner-Getty)

Into 2002 Courtney again raced for Carlin Motorsport racing a Dallara 302 Mugen-Honda as did title winner Robbie Kerr- Courtney won four races whilst Kerr won nine and finished ahead of Courtney and Heikki Kovalainen.

The gruelling championship which has produced so many talented drivers down the decades comprised two races at each of thirteen venues, a format which tests prospective future F1 stars thoroughly.

Courtney circa 2002 (Getty)

2003 ended up being a rebuild year noting the physical aspects the Monza accident inflicted upon the young charger.

James chose to do the Japanese F3 Championship racing a Dallara F302 with punchy Toms Toyota 3S-GE engine- Mugen-Honda and various Toyota tuners engines were the most common in Japan with Three Bond Racing using Nissan SR20VE motors.

In another year of dominance James won thirteen races in the ten circuit tour finishing in front of Paolo Montin and Tatsuya Kataoka.

If there were any doubts about the loss of Courtney’s raw pace in ‘that shunt’ it was well and truly dispelled when all of the stars of the year met at Macau for the F3 ‘Grand Final.’

Macao GP 2003 Dallara F302 Toyota, #32 is Hiroki Yoshimoto

None of the 2002 F3 brigade got F1 seats in 2003- James Courtney, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nelson Piquet Jnr, Robert Kubica and Ryan Briscoe- all would get their chance of course and two of them did, and still do rather well!

Toyota continued to support his career in 2004 and 2005, he contested the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship for sixth and second places respectively aboard Toyota Team TOM’s Supras.

His first appearance ‘back home’ in quite a while was with the Holden Racing Team in 2005  he contested the endurance races partnered by Jim Richards who was perfectly placed to assist the Supercar ‘newbee’ with the nuances of these powerful, heavy, demanding cars.

Courtney aboard the Toyota-Toms Supra during the All Star 200 at Fontana in December 2004, he shared the car with Tatsuya Kataoka (L Miller-LAT)

 

Courtney at the 2010 Sydney 500- James won the title whilst Jonathon Webb and Lee Holdsworth took the round race wins. Ford FG V8 Supercar- 5 litre pushrod V8 circa 465Kw @ 7,000rpm, 6 speed manual sequential gearbox, 1355Kg (Getty)

Courtney raced for the Stone Brothers Ford operation from 2006 to 2008 taking his first round win at Queensland Raceway in 2008- he won the title aboard a Dick Johnson Racing Ford FG Falcon in 2010 taking five wins and finishing ahead of 2009 champ Jamie Whincup.

In recent Covid 19 times he has been in the news with a shift of team- probably the last spin of the Supercar Roulette Wheel for the soon to be forty year old.

Still, this article isn’t about V8 Supercars- i think its great that a young fella from out west has forged a career of his passion for the better part of thirty and a bit years- his lifestyle on the Gold Coast would be splendid but man what couldaa been but for that testing accident, at that speed, at that circuit- i always thought at the time he really was the goods and looked a good bet to go all the way towards the top of the pyramid…

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

James Courtney back to his roots at Queensland Raceway in 2015 aboard one of the Karts he had commenced to manufacture and market that year.

Photo Credits…

Aaron Noonan and an1images.com, Getty Images, P Spinner-LAT, Crash, L Miller-LAT, motorsport.com,

Tailpiece…

The broken rear wing element of the R3 with Courtney aboard earlier in the year is almost a portent of rear end of the car things to come soon after- Silverstone 2002.

Finito…