APP, with additional reporting by Chris Smith
Jason Bright (Holden) took the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy as best overall driver of the weekend home to Brad Jones Racing after winning the fourth and final race of V8 Supercars ITM 400 Auckland.
The trophy is named in honor of the Kiwi V8 driver who died from cancer in 2011. Bright was a close friend and former teammate of Richards at BJR and was choked with emotion after stepping out of his Commodore. Richards’ wife, Charlotte, presented the trophy as Bright hoisted Richards’ daughter Sienna in his arms.
The honor culminated another strong weekend for Brad Jones Racing, following Fabian Coulthard's win last weekend in Tasmania with the New Zealander now fifth in the championships, just ahead of Bright.
The 40-year old Bright beat Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander by 5.299 sec and Red Bull Racing's Jamie Whincup to make it a Holden clean sweep on the podium. Coulthard came in fourth while Will Davison finished fifth to jump ahead of Whincup in the championship by 31 points. Bright's victory meant there were four different winners in the four races over the weekend with Davison (Ford), Whincup and Scott McLaughlin (Holden) also taking checkered flags.
In an anti-climactic finish to a chaotic third race, Davison finished ahead of New Zealand's Holden drivers Shane van Gisbergen and Coulthard. The safety car exited the track just 700 m from the finish line after New Zealand teenager McLaughlin had put his Commodore VF into a wall, leaving an easy passage to the line for Davison. Davison, who started fifth, posted just the second win for a Ford driver in 24 attempts at Pukekohe. Davison's Ford Performance Racing teammate Mark Winterbottom and pole-sitter Whincup had a running battle that resulted in them struggling home in 23rd and 24th respectively.
The 19-year old McLaughlin came crashing back down to earth after his record-setting feat a day earlier. McLaughlin made V8 Supercars history when he became the series’ youngest winner in the opening race of the event. But the damage his car sustained in the first race on Sunday kept him from starting the final race.
As mentioned, Davison (No. 6 Ford Falcon FG, Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford) did well enough on the weekend to move into first place in the season standings with 697 points, followed by Red Racing Australia teammates Whincup (No. 1 Holden Commodore VF, 666 points) and Craig Lowndes (No. 888, 591 points). The Top 3 teams were Red Bull Racing Australia (1197), Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford (1145), and Lockwood Racing (Holden, 1105).
The V8 Supercars race next in Perth and make their US debut at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tex., May 17-19 in the Austin 400. The Pirelli World Challenge Championships and Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series will also race that weekend. World Challenge includes cars from Cadillac, Audi, KIA, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo, while the GT3 cup is exclusively Porsche 996 and 997 machines.