Supercars star Shane Van Gisbergen will be racing for more than just championship points in Sunday’s 200km race at Pukekohe.
The New Zealand driver’s win at his hometown circuit on Saturday puts him in the box seat to secure the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy as the driver with the most points across the Supercars event in Auckland.
Awarded since 2015, the trophy is highly prized by the Supercars field in honour of popular former driver Richards, who died from cancer in 2011 aged just 35.
Van Gisbergen claimed the prize in 2016 and is clearly excited by the prospect of winning it for a second time.
“We’re racing for one of the trophies that has the most meaning in our sport,” the Red Bull Holden Racing Team star said.
“Seeing his parents every morning, they’re beside our motorhome, it’s pretty cool to have them here. His wife Charlotte and the daughters, they’re here tomorrow.
“Hopefully we can have a good day and come away with it. I’ve won it before and it was almost the highlight of that year. It’s a pretty cool thing to race in honour (of him).”
Championship leader Scott McLaughlin is the current holder of the memorial trophy.
The DJR Team Penske star had a rare off day on Saturday, coming home fifth but still holds a monster 586-point lead in the championship standings from nearest rival Van Gisbergen.
McLaughlin may not be able to retain the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy but is eager to bounce back in Sunday’s race as he aims to claim a record 17th win in 2019.
“”Coming from sixth was always going to be tough and the changes to the Holdens have clearly given them something,” McLaughlin said.
“Finishing in the top five when we aren’t at our best is a strong result. We’ll aim to get back up the front tomorrow (Sunday).”
The Auckland SuperSprint resumes at Pukekohe with qualifying in the morning before a top 10 shootout for pole and the 70-lap race in the afternoon.