'It's amazing': Darwin's most popular pole position

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 11/06/2021
  • By James Pavey, Pics by AN1 Images

0.0515s.

That’s all the late Jason Richards needed to clinch a maiden pole position in Supercars, nine years after his main game debut.

To Darwin’s then 11-year history as a Supercars venue, no pole position winner had been more popular.

Richards firmed to claim Brad Jones Racing’s maiden pole when he topped qualifying by just 0.0615s over Todd Kelly.

It was the second man out in the Top 10 Shootout, series leader Jamie Whincup, who threatened to upset BJR’s momentum.

WATCH: RICHARDS CLINCHES MAIDEN POLE

Whincup, who qualified ninth ahead of the shootout, dropped in a 1:09.5423s flyer to put the rest of the top 10 runners on notice.

Pole would have been the perfect tonic for Richards, who through eight races, had only recorded three top 10 finishes.

The New Zealander was inch-perfect at Hidden Valley, dropping in a lap good enough to prevent Whincup from another pole in his title defence.

It marked a key day not only for Richards, but for BJR, which inched ever closer to its maiden race win.

That would have to wait until 2011, with Richards finishing the race seventh behind eventual winner Whincup.

However, the instant relief of the pole was reflected in the BJR garage, with Richards’ father Dave cutting the biggest grin of all when his son crossed the line.

"It's amazing," an elated Richards said.

"I'd gone missing in a few race meetings, so it's great to be back.

Richards en route to pole

"I love this place. It's good for Brad Jones Racing and Team BOC who have been battling for a number of years.

"It was awesome to finally get my first pole position after being within a thousandth of a second before.

"It's a great feeling, especially after we had struggled in qualifying at previous rounds.

"It shows the strength of the team and proves we can run with the leaders."

Whincup would win the start and the race, his sixth from nine starts to open his 2009 campaign.

Richards and Garth Tander nearly had Whincup’s number at Turn 1, but the pole man seemed only good enough for second in the race.

However, an error at Turn 1 with three laps remaining consigned Richards to seventh.

The Aucklander made a triumphant return to the podium alongside Cameron McConville, with the duo narrowly missing out on a stunning Bathurst victory in a wet-dry thriller.

Richards and McConville on the Bathurst podium

It was Richards’ third Bathurst podium in five starts, and a second in succession following his stirring drive alongside Greg Murphy in 2009.

He also combined with Andrew Jones to finish third in the Phillip Island enduro in 2010, with Jones taking the reins of Richards’ car when the Kiwi was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma.

His Phillip Island podium would be his last, with Richards passing away in December 2011.

Richards’ legacy remains, with the Aucklander honoured with a trophy in his name for the overall winner of the Pukekohe weekend.

BJR has since claimed 17 main game poles, with Nick Percat and Todd Hazelwood notably claiming poles in Townsville last year.

Can the Albury squad return to the top at Hidden Valley next weekend, 12 years on from Richards’ famous breakthrough?

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to the Northern Territory for the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown across June 18-20. Tickets are available here.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo, and will be broadcast live and free on Seven.

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