After a brave 14-month battle against cancer, veteran V8 Supercars driver Jason Richards died on Thursday night.
The New Zealander, who has driven in the V8 Supercars Championship since 2000, passed away peacefully at his family home after succumbing to Adreno Cortical Carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, with which he was first diagnosed in November last year.
Richards, aged 35, raced for several Holden teams in the V8 series – Team Kiwi Racing, Team Dynamik, Tasman Motorsport and most recently Brad Jones Racing. He scored three Bathurst 1000 podiums with Jamie Whincup (2005), Greg Murphy (2008) and Andrew Jones (2009) and won three New Zealand touring car championships prior to moving into the Australian V8 series in 2000.
Richards stepped down from his full-time drive after the diagnosis to undergo treatment and focus his energies on fighting his illness, but still took part in several co-driver practice sessions and tested the Brad Jones Racing #8 Team BOC Commodore in-between treatments. He also won an emotional race in a one-off appearance in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series in Adelaide for Greg Murphy Racing. In October, he drove in the popular Touring Car Masters category at the Bathurst 1000, finishing as runner-up for the round which was met with huge acclaim up and down pit lane. He also returned for a one-off appearance in the non-championship V8 Supercars event – the Albert Park 400, claiming a brilliant second place in race two.
In a statement released earlier today, Brad Jones Racing paid tribute to the talented driver:
“In the competitive world of V8 Supercars Jason was a rare breed – a driver that could tread the fine line between rivalry and friendship. He was never secretive, selfish or bad-tempered and had endless enthusiasm and energy for his job and team.
The history books will not do him justice. Given the right equipment JR was easily a front-runner but chose team loyalty over personal gain, determined to work with his crew to reach the front of the grid together.
Through the highs and lows of racing, JR's uplifting presence and casual, self-effacing wit were unwavering and his effect he had on team morale is irreplaceable.
He will forever be a member of the Jones family and this is a tragic day in the team's history.”