Richards Trophy heads home, four different winners in ITM 400 Auckland. Jason Bright took the honors in memory of his former teammate while Will Davison takes the points lead.
The Jason Richards Trophy will head to the trophy cabinet of his team after Jason Bright scorched home in the final race at the ITM 400 Auckland at Pukekohe Park Raceway today.
A tearful Bright, a former teammate of the late Jason Richards, was delighted not only with the win but his overall performance over the weekend earned him the trophy to return to the Brad Jones Racing team based in rural New South Wales.
Strong performances from Ford's Will Davison, including victory in the first of two 100km races today, earned him the lead in the V8 Supercars Championship, taking over from defending Champion Jamie Whincup.
Bright's victory also emphasised the remarkable effect of the new cars this year, with four different winners at Pukekohe this weekend featuring teenage Kiwi Scott McLaughlin, Whincup and Will Davison.
The experienced Bright earned the ARMOR ALL pole for the final race, and after slowly hauling in early leader Whincup, he took the lead on lap 11 and from there cleared out.
While the victory was meaningful, it was a special celebration as he hoisted Richards' daughter Sienna in his arms and hugged wife Charlotte who presented him with the Jason Richards Trophy.
"I got a message from Charlotte during the week passed on from Sienna saying that she wanted to present the trophy to me this weekend - talk about putting the pressure on," Bright said.
"I think it sums it up. Car 8 wanted to win this race, the whole team wanted to take that trophy back to Albury. I was awake last night thinking about it.
"Yesterday when I got tagged by James Courtney, I think he (Jason Richards) jumped in the car and saved that one for me because there was no way I was going to save that one.
"All I thought about this weekend and all the team thought about was that trophy so it's very special."
He even carried the "JR Star" signwritten on his car throughout the weekend.
It marked 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 third race of the weekend earlier in the day proved a humdinger.
If it was 2-0 in the collision stakes between Whincup and Ford's Mark Winterbottom based on yesterday's bash, it is now 2-all after the pair came together twice but the upshot was that both finished at the tail of the field.
It proved a race of drama, with Whincup colliding with Winterbottom on lap 18 allowing Coulthard to slip through into the lead. The Kiwi had to withstand a further Pedders safety car, but he hit the kerb hard on turn three and the resulting loss of speed and flattening tyre allowed Davison and Shane van Gisbergen through.
The race finished on the fourth safety car after Scott McLaughlin, the hero yesterday with the opening win, hit the wall over the ITM Mountain with Davison grabbing his 15th career victory.
It was Ford's first win at Pukekohe since Marcos Ambrose in 2007.
"It's a cool stat to break that drought but nine years - we haven't been here since 07, yeah there is obviously four years in there somewhere where they did it, but I think Muprh may have won all those races, so it's cool," Davison said.
"FPR won both races in Hamilton last year. So it hasn't been all doom and gloom for New Zealand Ford fans. I'm not sure how many cheered me on the hill but hopefully there were a few Ford fans who were pretty relieved, they haven't seen that here for a while.
He cemented the championship lead that with his fifth placing in the final race to be on 697 points, with Whincup on 681, his Red bull Racing Holden teammate Craig Lowndes third on 591, Holden's Garth Tander on 553 ahead of Coulthard on 552, Bright on 539 and Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen on 532.
"This time of the year, don't really want to talk about it (the championship). I found myself in this position last year, three rounds in and everyone is talking about Championship - so much can change so quickly," Davison said.
"It is definitely encouraging. I expected these first rounds to be a bit tough for us. We don't have a great handle on the car, but we have dug really really deep at all the moments when it counts and I have been able to have a really clean free run so far, so we will see. I didn't expect to be leading now so who knows what December will bring - we will certainly be fighting really hard to hold on. "
McLaughlin's win, becoming the youngest in V8 Supercars Championship history, was mixed with a non-finish and resulting non-start in the final race to drop him to 10th overall in his rookie season in the main game.
It has cemented three New Zealanders in the top 10 with Coulthard fifth, Shane van Gisbergen seventh and McLaughlin 10th.