Season-best fourth for Richards
The Kiwi enjoyed a spectacular day, the highlight being the third and final race, where he seized the lead on lap five and led the field until pitting for tyres on lap 25 of 48.
Re-joining behind Craig Lowndes, Richards kept the pressure on the three-time V8 champion and crossed the line in second spot, the result not quite enough to lift him up onto the podium for the weekend.
The result is a continuation of the speed shown by the Tasman Motorsport Commodores throughout the opening parts of 2006 and bodes well as the team approaches the endurance events at Sandown and Bathurst.
Earlier in the day, Richards started 26th for the reverse grid race and carefully picked his way through the traffic to finish 14th.
His team-mate Andrew Jones once again was consistent in the #23 Commodore, moving up six spots in the championship points with his 21st place result for the round.
A 12th place finish in the reverse grid race was followed by an 18th-place result in the final 140-kilometre race.
The V8 Supercar Series will resume in three weeks time deep in enemy Ford territory at Queensland Raceway near Ipswich.
Jason Richards (#3 SEW-Eurodrive/Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ)
“The result is awesome, just as the car was in that last race. I got a great start and we were able to charge past Lowndes and Tander and it actually blew me away just how quick the #3 car was. We went back to how our car was yesterday and it worked even better than we could have imagined. It surprised both my engineer Wally Storey and I that it didn’t fade away as the laps went by. The only drama was that the radio didn’t work. I could hear Wally but he couldn’t hear me. I’m really proud of the team and it gives us even more confidence that we are only getting stronger and stronger. We stayed out for quite a while in the last race and the pace was good, but Lowndes had enough speed to be in front once we’d pitted and his tyres didn’t really go away to the point where I could catch the gap.”
Andrew Jones (#23 SEW-Eurodrive/Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ)
“Well we ended up 10 spots higher than we qualified in the final race so from that perspective that’s a positive. In all three races I pretty much had no dramas to speak of, apart from a run off the road in Race 1 on Saturday. We just made the most of what we had and stayed out for trouble for the weekend. We just have a fundamental lack of what I want to get from the car. But on the other hand, Jason’s result is great for the team. They all work very hard and deserve it and, while I would love to be giving them those results too, we are a team at Tasman Motorsport and if one of us has a good weekend, then we’re all supportive and happy with it.”
Round 5 Results, V8 Supercar Championship Series – Hidden Valley
1. Craig Lowndes, #888 Betta Falcon BA, 304 pts
2. Garth Tander, #16 Toll HSV DT Commodore VZ, 282 pts
3. Rick Kelly, #15 Toll HSV DT Commodore VZ, 282 pts
4. Jason Richards, #3 SEW-Eurodrive Commodore VZ, 270 pts
5. Mark Winterbottom, #5 FPR Falcon BA, 252 pts
6. Mark Skaife, #2 HRT Commodore VZ, 246 pts
7. Russell Ingall, #1 Caltex Falcon BA, 240 pts
8. Jason Bright, #6 CAT Falcon BA, 216 pts
9. Cameron McConville, #50 Supercheap Auto Commodore VZ, 210 pts
10. James Courtney, #4 Jeld-Wen Falcon BA, 202 pts
21. Andrew Jones, #23 SEW-Eurodrive Commodore VZ, 142 pts
Championship Points After Round 5
1. Garth Tander, #16 Toll HSV DT Commodore VZ, 1324 pts
2. Craig Lowndes, #888 Betta Falcon BA, 1316 pts
3. Rick Kelly, #15 Toll HSV DT Commodore VZ, 1311 pts
4. Russell Ingall, #1 Caltex Falcon BA, 1202 pts
5. Mark Winterbottom, #5 FPR Falcon BA, 1191 pts
6. Steven Richards, #7 Jack Daniel’s Commodore VZ, 1134 pts
7. Mark Skaife, #2 HRT Commodore VZ, 1108 pts
8. Paul Dumbrell, #11 Jack Daniel’s Commodore VZ, 1096 pts
9. Jamie Whincup, #88 Betta Falcon BA, 1046 pts
10. Steven Johnson, #17 First Rock Falcon BA, 1001 pts
12. Jason Richards, #3 SEW-Eurodrive Commodore VZ, 919 pts
20. Andrew Jones, #23 SEW-Eurodrive Commodore VZ, 690 pts
For more information: Aaron Noonan on +61 (0) 438 316 148, email@example.com