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Brad Jones Racing’s emotional success as inaugural Jason Richards Trophy winner

The return of the Repco Supercars Championship to Pukekohe started in emotional fashion back in 2013.

After a four year hiatus from the championship after being replaced by the Hamilton street circuit in 2008, Pukekohe made a return in modified form as a chicane was added approaching the hairpin on the back sweeper.

Not only was Pukekohe’s layout changed, but the new Car of The Future regulation ruleset opened up the competition and Brad Jones Racing emerged as a frontrunning team through veteran Jason Bright, matched by the exuberance of Fabian Coulthard.

Four races were held at Pukekohe to decide the inaugural Jason Richards Trophy.

A former BJR driver, Jason Richards succumbed to cancer towards the end of the 2011 season, but not before Bright had taken victory in his former BOC Gases Holden Commodore at Perth and Winton, where a jubilant JR made an appearance on the podium.

Fast forward to 2013, Pukekohe was the third weekend of the season where reigning championship winner Jamie Whincup was yet to score a victory and Brad Jones Racing were coming off an amazing clean-sweep of wins at Symmons Plains.

Coulthard took two wins to Bright’s one in Tasmania as the team entered the regular New Zealand trip in a rich vein of form.

However, it was rookie Scott McLaughlin in the Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden VF Commodore converting pole to victory in Race 1, before Whincup broke his and Triple Eight’s winless streak at Pukekohe in the second.

Ford Performance Racing’s Will Davison won Race 3 to emerge as Bright’s main rival for the Jason Richards Trophy after finishing seventh and second in the opening two encounters.

Bright was well placed after scoring second, fourth and sixth, but needed a victory in the final event to take the trophy.

In an emotion-fuelled race, Bright took victory to win the inaugural Jason Richards Trophy for BJR.

Lightening up the moment was a celebratory jump on the podium for Bright bringing down a panel from the roof, but it proved a highlight of a season filled of success for the Albury-based squad.

What also made it a special moment was that the Richards family were in attendance as widow Charlotte, daughters Sienna and Olivia in addition to his parents Dave and Pauline watched Bright lead Garth Tander to victory.

Bright added another New Zealand victory in 2014 on ANZAC as this proved to be his last in Repco Supercars Championship history.

This year is the last event for Pukekohe after its closure in April next year was revealed and this moment is arguably the most special.