Former Supercars champion set to switch teams for 2020
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One of the worst-kept secrets in the Supercars Championship has been confirmed; James Courtney is set to leave Walkinshaw Andretti United at the end of the season.
“Walkinshaw Andretti United acknowledges that James Courtney will not return to the Team in 2020," said the team in a statement.
“James and the Team have shared nine seasons together, first joining the Walkinshaw family for the 2011 Supercars season and continuing into the Walkinshaw Andretti United era from 2018 onwards. In that time, James has achieved seven wins and a further 26 podiums, including a win on debut in Abu Dhabi in 2011, as well as three consecutive Adelaide 500 race wins from 2014-2016.
“Our focus on the remainder of the 2019 season remains unchanged, as we look forward to working with James to achieve the best possible results together. We wish James all the best for his future endeavours, he will always remain a big part of our history and family.”
It's been rumoured that Courtney's next home is most likely going to be at Irwin Racing alongside long-time rival Mark Winterbottom. Should he make the move, it would be a reunion of sorts for Courtney and Irwin Racing team owner Charlie Schwerkolt.
Schwerkolt and Courtney last worked together when they won the 2010 Supercars Championship crown in 2010 with Dick Johnson Racing — an achievement that stands out has having been accomplished during the height of Triple Eight and Jamie Whincup (who together won seven titles either side of Courtney's triumph).
Courtney's time since has been much more lean. Off the back of his 2010 title he moved to what was known at the time as the Holden Racing Team. He won almost instantly at Abu Dhabi, but race wins from there on have proved to be tough to procure.
He's had a few good results this season, including a pair of top fives and numerous top 10s. But luck has also deserted him several times, with with three finishes outside the top 20. He sits 12th in the championship points, four slots ahead of current teammate Scott Pye and two slots ahead of rumoured future teammate Winterbottom.
Courtney's move leaves at least one vacant spot at Walkinshaw Andretti United. Pye is also off contract for next year, which means that the historic team could possibly have a whole new line-up for 2020. Tickford Racing's Chaz Mostert has been linked to one of the driver slots, which would be a shock move given that he's currently enjoying his most competitive season of racing since 2014.