By his own admission the past nine weeks have been “horrendous” for V8 Supercars star James Courtney.
That’s what makes his victory in the 300km race on the Gold Coast on Sunday so special.
The Holden star has battled constant, crippling pain since a freak accident in the pitlane at the Sydney Motorsport Park event in August.
Courtney broke several ribs and punctured a lung after a piece of metal thrown clear by the wash of a Navy helicopter struck him in the side.
Only cleared to return to driving last week, Courtney masterminded a win for the ages on Sunday with a bold strategy play in the 102-lap race.
After qualifying 11th, Courtney pitted on lap 58 for a splash of fuel to take him to the race finish.
The call paid off as Courtney’s rivals ahead of him pitted one by one, allowing him to secure his second win of the season ahead of Nissan’s Rick Kelly and Holden Racing Team stablemate Garth Tander.
Courtney’s injury remains so severe he will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine if his weekend racing has caused any further damage.
It was also an emotional victory for co-driver Jack Perkins, giving the son of legendary driver Larry his first V8 Supercars race win.
“There’s been so much s**t, it’s been horrendous – even last night to still have the amount of pain that you’re going through and sitting in there waiting to get in the car,” Courtney said.
“When you can come back and say – excuse my French – but ‘f**k you, I can still do it’ it’s awesome and I’m so happy to do it with Jack.
“His dad supported me when I was younger and to sit and watch Bathurst with Larry, go through that whole emotion and experience our first win together, pretty emotional for me, especially with everything else as well.”
Tander’s third placing also secured him and co-driver Warren Luff the Pirtek Endurance Cup as the best performed team over the past three endurance events.
Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes finished fourth to further cut the championship lead of Ford star Mark Winterbottom.
Lowndes, who trailed Winterbottom by 399 points coming into the weekend, now is just 258 behind with three events left in 2015.
The next stop will be the Auckland 500 in New Zealand from November 6.