The most 'emotional' Winton victory of them all

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 24/05/2021
  • By James Pavey, Pics by AN1 Images

The next stop on the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship calendar holds a special place for Brad Jones Racing, which executed a stunning victory at Winton 10 years ago.

Almost a decade to the day, Jason Bright’s stunning charge to victory in the 2011 Winton finale was a product of a bold alternative strategy and some supreme driving.

Bright’s fourth and final win at the rural Victorian circuit, which will host this weekend’s Winton SuperSprint, was perhaps his best, and certainly, his most emotional.

Seldom does a strategy like the one BJR pulled work; Bright, who had qualified eighth, twice pitted several laps later than the other leaders at both of his stops.

WATCH: BRIGHT'S STUNNING CHARGE IN 2011

The 1997 Bathurst winner was eighth when he rejoined after his last stop with 20 laps to go, but was in the lead with two laps remaining.

To Sunday, BJR had only won one race, and it came courtesy of Bright in Perth three weeks earlier.

That day was masked by the horrific accident for Karl Reindler, which cast a pall over Bright’s breakthrough for the Albury team.

In Winton, the story was of a driver and team’s combination to pull off a win through sheer speed and nifty strategy, returning BJR to the top step for the second time in as many events.

“The race at Winton was a fantastic result,” team owner Jones recently told Supercars.com.

“Jason commented that he felt he passed the field a couple of times.

Bright swoops past Whincup

“At the time, I thought it was the right strategy. It was a really rewarding race, Jason was so much faster than everyone else towards the end."

Bright, with the race closing and the clouds darkening above, scythed through traffic like a hot knife through butter.

Five laps from the end he stole third from Michael Caruso into Turn 3, then took second from HRT's Garth Tander on the following lap.

That left Jamie Whincup, who had led the majority of the race, the only car in front.

Bright made mincemeat of the 2.5s gap to Whincup, made a daring pass around the outside for the lead into Turn 1, and won by 1.6s.

Bright takes the chequered flag

It was a result which, in the 66 championship races held at Winton since 1985, carried the most weight, with the late Jason Richards joining Bright on the podium.

Richards, who joined BJR in 2009, had been sidelined due to his battle with a rare form of cancer, and was on hand for the Winton weekend.

When Bright was called onto the podium, he brought Richards onto the top step with him, before dousing the New Zealander with champagne.

It marked a full circle of sorts for Richards, who claimed his one and only race win at Winton five years earlier.

Sadly, Richards passed away later that year, with Bright going on the score a memorable win at Pukekohe in 2013 to win the trophy in his late mate’s name.

Bright and Richards on the podium

“That race is perhaps more memorable [than Perth] in terms of how it unfolded, and JR was there,” Jones said.

“It was like the original band got back together in a funny sort of way.

“Perth was a really important occasion for everyone at BJR, but being able to roll out at a different circuit and do it again, with the speed and strategy we had, and the fact JR was there, it was a very emotional day at Winton.”

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to Victoria for the Winton SuperSprint across May 28-30. Tickets are available here.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus. Check out the weekend schedule here.

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