James Courtney has ruled himself out of the upcoming Sandown 500 as he continues to recover from injuries sustained in a freak pitlane incident at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The 2010 champion was injured prior to the day’s second practice session when he was struck by flying debris in pit lane. He suffered two broken ribs and a collapsed lung in the accident, caused by the downdraft from a military helicopter which was there as part of an on track display.
Co-driver Jack Perkins subbed in for Courtney during the event, gaining some valuable track time in the lead up to the Endurance season which kicks off at Sandown in September.
The Holden Racing Team weren’t ruling out that Courtney would recover in time to race in September, even as a long shot, however it is now confirmed that he will sit the event out.
“I’m trying to get right for Bathurst,” Courtney told AAP.
“It all goes on how the lung heals, and obviously as well with the ribs.
“It’s not a short race – Bathurst is a long one.
“Hopefully it’s all good by then but, yeah, Sandown’s out.”
Missing two events will have a huge impact on his Championship hopes, already slipping from fifth to eighth in the standings. Racing aside, Courtney is still struggling to believe that the accident happened.
“I’m glad it wasn’t a foot higher, it would’ve taken my head off.
“I don’t think I could’ve scripted it. I don’t know what to say. Definitely not something I was prepared for or thought was coming, can’t believe really, it happened.”
The hunt is now on for a driver to replace Courtney at Sandown alongside Jack Perkins. A number of local and international driver’s names have been thrown into the ring to test with the team at Winton on September 3.
“Jack was my teammate so I guess he takes the reins and I don’t know,” said Courtney.
“I think they were trying to ring around trying to get some people sorted.
“The drama is the majority of the blokes you want are gone.”
Courtney was discharged from hospital yesterday and is returning to his home on the Gold Coast to continue his recovery.