Motorsport: Bright wants Darwin win for cancer-stricken Richards

Jason Bright wants to win this weekend in Darwin - for his unwell team mate Jason Richards. Photo / Getty Images
Jason Bright wants to win this weekend in Darwin - for his unwell team mate Jason Richards. Photo / Getty Images

A driver who won't even be competing this weekend still looms as a factor in the V8 Supercars round in Darwin.

Cancer-stricken Jason Richards has been the inspiration behind Holden teammate Jason Bright's stunning rise up the V8 standings in 2011.

And Bright said he was more determined than ever to deliver another win as Richards fights to return as his co-driver for this year's endurance rounds.

"He has inspired everyone in the team," veteran driver Bright told AAP yesterday.

"It has been an emotional ride. It was a fair shock to the team late last year when he was diagnosed.

"We are sure he will get better and get back on the podium.

"I will try and score a few more wins for him in the meantime."

Richards has stepped down from full-time driving as he battles a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

But he plans to contest the Phillip Island (September) and Bathurst (October) rounds as Bright's co-driver.

Bright's Team BOC will use today's practice session to give Richards some laps in preparation for the enduros.

"He is up here as well to do the practice sessions and all going well he will be co-driving with me at Phillip Island and Bathurst," Bright said.

"He is a great guy to have around the garage.

"His smiling face at Winton was good to see and he will inspire me again in Darwin."

In emotional scenes, Bright pulled Richards up to the podium following his stunning come-from-behind win at the last round in Winton in May.

Reeling in championship leader Jamie Whincup and leading Holden driver Garth Tander to claim victory showed Bright's win in Perth just weeks earlier had been no fluke.

One of the smallest V8 teams, Team BOC's Bright (920 points) has shot up to fourth on the overall drivers' standings.

He is just 314 points behind factory-backed leader Whincup (1234 pts) with teammate Craig Lowndes (972) and fellow big name Holden driver Tander (935) also in striking distance.

And with 300 points up for grabs in round six's two races in Darwin this weekend, Bright knows opportunity is knocking.

Not that he will have it all his own way in Darwin.

Whincup's Team Vodafone record at the Top End is formidable.

Two-time series champion Whincup and Lowndes share six race wins at Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit.

And Whincup grabbed a first and second respectively in Darwin's two races last year.

Adding further pressure, Bright admits the top teams will now have him firmly in their sights after two wins from four starts.

"After Winton I think everyone sees we will be pretty serious contenders for the rest of the year - we can't fly under the radar," Bright said.

To spice things up, in Sunday's 200km race teams can use a set of soft, faster tyres at their discretion.

All teams and their drivers arrived in Darwin on Thursday despite the threat of travel interruptions due to volcanic ash.

- AAP

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