Richards 13th as Whincup goes out with a bang at Phillip Island

Jason Richards has finished 13th in the closing round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series - the BigPond Grand Finale - at Phillip Island in Victoria.

The Kiwi finished 11th and 16th in today's races in the #3 Dodo Commodore, fighting hard in the pair of 140-kilometre events to bring his season to a close in style.

Despite struggling in the final 32-lap race after a setup change that didn't give him any more pace, Richards pressed on and crossed the line bumping doors with Craig Lowndes. The Ford driver had earlier received a drive-through penalty and pipped Richards on the final straight.

"We just didn't have any tyres left in the last race to go out there and fight hard," said Richards.

"I used up the tyres a bit in the earlier race today and our car speed then was actually good. We'd improved the car but the weekend has given us a chance to take away some data and knowledge of Phillip Island, because we've never been here before with the current generation cars.

"All in all, we've had a good year. I'm proud of our team. We've lifted ourselves up the order and learnt a lot to come back in 2006 and work even harder."

On the other hand, teammate Jamie Whincup's season came to a smoky end in Race 3 when an engine problem sidelined the #23 Commodore. Having made a flying start from 18th to 12th on the first lap, his engine cried enough on lap four of 32.

"I got a gun start in that last race and we'd actually improved the car and got it back to the level of pace it showed in qualifying," said Whincup.

"I heard a vibration heading down the straight and smoke started to fill the cabin so I just switched the engine off and tried to get off the racing line as soon as I could.

"Our engines have had a 100 percent reliability record all season so I feel bad for Ron (Harrop) and 'Part' (engine man Neill Burns), who have worked hard all year.

"It's a sad way to end my time with the team but I guess you could say we definitely went out with a bang .

"The team gave me a great opportunity to prove I could mix it in V8 Supercars. Finishing on the podium at Bathurst in October was a pretty special memory that I'll have for a long time to come."

Dodo Racing will now prepare their cars for two days of running at their Winton test circuit in Victoria. A test day will take up one day and a sponsor ride day on the following one in mid-December will round out the team's on-track operations for 2005.

The 2006 V8 Supercar Series will begin at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide next March.