He's back: James Courtney emerges from 23Red ashes to make Supercars return
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One of the worst-kept secrets in recent Supercars Championship history has been confirmed; former series champion James Courtney is returning to the series after a brief hiatus.
“The last time I stepped out of a Ford I was champion, so stepping back in brings some good memories,” Courtney said.
“It does bring you some warm feelings. I’ve obviously had some great results with Ford and coming back brings back all those fond memories, hopefully we’ll create some more.”
The news comes off the back of the demise of Tickford Racing satellite team 23Red Racing, who left the series last week citing financial strains in the midst of Covid-19 and the departure of primary backer Milwaukee. Courtney will now slot into the Tickford-built Ford Mustang, backed by Boost Mobile.
Along with helping bring Courtney back into the mix, the move also means that the team that formerly crewed the 23Red Racing entry will be retained by the sport.
It's yet another odd turn of events for Courtney, who technically hasn't missed any Supercars events since his surprise split with Team Sydney and Jonathon Webb after the Adelaide 500.
The brief stint with Team Sydney had already been odd enough, following rumours the team had crumbled before the season began, the 11th-hour sponsorship deal with Boost, the almost equally late signing of teammate Chris Pither, and the fact the team still is not based in Sydney despite its name and funding channels. It was then followed by a relatively public split, where Courtney referenced disagreement with the team.
The move signals Courtney's return to racing a Ford. The 39-year-old's famously left Ford after winning the title for the marque in 2010, following concerns about the longevity of Dick Johnson Racing. He joined the Holden Racing Team for 2011, racing for the iconic team until 2019.
23Red refugee Will Davison has said that he aims to get back onto the Supercars grid, having been involuntarily shut out of the series after one of his strongest starts to a championship in recent years.
“Certainly it’s unfortunate what has happened with Will and 23Red," Courtney added. “It’s a tough situation, but when one door closes another opens, and I’m just grateful that Boost Mobile have come onboard and tapped me to continue in growing and building Boost Mobile Racing.”
Supercars confirmed over the weekend that it aims to return to racing on June 27-28, with an event at Sydney Motorsport Park. The series aims to pack in eight more rounds before the end of the year (including the Bathurst 1000 on the traditional October date), before finishing the season in 2021 with an event in New Zealand and a second event at Bathurst.