Nervous, uncertain and then relieved, Friday’s practice at the Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercars event was an emotional day for James Courtney.
The Holden star made his return from serious injury on the streets of Surfers Paradise, getting behind the wheel of his Commodore for the first time in two months.
Courtney was sidelined after breaking several ribs and puncturing a lung when debris struck him in the pitlane at Sydney Motorsport Park in August during a demonstration by a Navy helicopter.
Forced to sit out both the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000, Courtney admits he didn’t know what would happen when he strapped himself into his vehicle and took it racing.
“Everyone was a little uncertain as to how today was going to go,” Courtney told AAP.
“Everyone was holding their breath slightly. Even though I felt good, you can’t simulate what we go through.
“But it was fine. Press on now. Now we’re chasing car speed, back into the old routine of complaining about the car and I need a new gear box, all that sort of stuff.”
Courtney’s first run of the day ended with a 13th-fastest lap in opening practice before finishing inside the top 10 times in eighth position in the final session.
“That last one I was just smashing the kerbs and getting a heap of cuts just to try and see what would happen but, yeah, everything was fine,” he said.
Another injured driver, Ford’s Scott Pye, has also emerged from Friday’s practice in good shape.
The Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske pilot topped the opening practice session and despite admitting his broken rib from a crash at the Bathurst 1000 was tender, ended the day all smiles.