Motorsport: Tears over Bright win

By Michael Brown

Last weekend Sienna Richards told her mum Charlotte she wanted Jason Bright to win the ITM 400 Auckland so she could present the trophy that bears her father's name to the driver who means the most to her.

Yesterday at the Pukekohe Park Raceway, the five-year-old got her wish.

Bright won the fourth and final race of the V8 Supercars to cement his place as this weekend's best driver overall and collect the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy from Charlotte and Sienna.

It was an emotional moment and there were plenty of teary eyes throughout the pits and in the stands. He also received a card made by Sienna - she was going to present it to whoever won - who took great pleasure in writing out 'Brighty' in bold, blue ink.

Bright was teammates with Richards when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He took over the No 8 BOC livery from the Nelson-born Richards and was supposed to hand it back to him when he got better. Richards, who won one V8 Supercars race and three times finished on the podium at Bathurst, died 16 months ago, aged 35.

"It was a fairytale ending,'' Charlotte said. "Sienna had got her hopes and sights set on Brighty winning, as we all did. Magic, Magic. I couldn't have asked for a better result.''

Charlotte told Bright about Sienna's wishes last weekend after racing in Tasmania.
"Talk about putting the pressure on,'' he said.

But he put enough on himself. He spent countless hours with his Brad Jones Racing team trying to work out the best setup for the bumpy Pukekohe setup because, of all the rounds of the V8 Supercars this year, this was the one he wanted to win the most. He even had the JR Star signwritten on his car for the weekend.

"All I have thought about this weekend was winning that trophy,'' he said. "All the team thought about... very special.

"Car 8 wanted to win this race. The whole team wanted to take that trophy back to [team headquarters at] Albury. I was awake last night thinking about it. Yesterday when I got tagged by James Courtney I reckon [Richards] jumped in the car and saved that one for me, too, because there was no way I was going to save that one.''

He didn't need much help in the final race yesterday. He started his Holden on pole but immediately relinquished the lead to Jamie Whincup, who showed good early pace. But Bright passed him about one-third of the way through the race and cleared away from the rest of the field.

Garth Tander finished second ahead of Whincup, who had an up-and-down weekend but felt the right car and driver had won on Sunday.

"This is one of the great motorsport stories that has unfolded this weekend,'' Whincup said. "Nothing was stopping Car 8 today. Jason was a great bloke and I'm sure he will have a massive smile on his face to see Brighty cross the line.''

It capped off a consistent weekend for Bright, who also posted a second, fourth and sixth, and it saw him jump to sixth on the overall standings. It was a drastic improvement on the first round, when he emerged from Adelaide and the Clipsal 500 in 27th overall.

He joked team owner Brad Jones would get out the wallet and shout the team McDonald's. ``I think it will be a pretty good night,'' he said. ``Everyone will raise a glass to JR.''


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