Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mark Skaife - HRT

Well, it has been a busy week for me since my bro returned from Australia last sunday to celebrate CNY with us. Guess what, he managed to pick up my long awaited 1:43 2008 HRT car - The last car that raced by Australia V8 Supercar legend - Mark Skaife.

I'm sure you guys may wonder how do I come to know this driver since the Australia V8Supercar is not as famous comparing to DTM, FIA WTCC, even the BTCC... The truth is between 2001 and 2003, when I was doing my degree in Melbourne, you know during the weekend I was kidda bored (for a race car fan like me) unable to follow F1 live broadcast at my home stay - cause no cable TV.... fortunately there was live V8 supercar broadcating over the local tv channel... Then I bumped into one of the Australia great race car driver - Mark Skaife.... watching him set many fastest time in both qualification as well as in race day.... he won three consecutive V8 SuperCar titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002....

Sadly, in 2008 Skaife announced that he would be retiring from full-time driving in the V8 Supercar Championship Series due to the increasing pressures of Supercar team ownage and mounting debt. I wish him well in his new ventures....

Mark Stephen Skaife OAM (born 3 April 1967 in Gosford, New South Wales) is an Australian race-car driver and five times winner of the V8 Supercars/Australian Touring Car Championship. In 2007 he achieved a record 38 round wins in the championship, surpassing the late Peter Brock. He set a Guinness World Record with the fastest speed of 277.16 km/h for a production ute (pick-up truck), driving an HSV Maloo at the Woomera Prohibited Area in 2006. On October 29 2008 he announced his fulltime retirement.

Skaife began racing karts in the late 1970s. His first car race was at Amaroo Park in 1984, at the wheel of a Holden Torana XU-1 sports sedan, which was partly built by his father, Russell. The following year, Skaife joined the Ford Laser Series, and in 1986 finished 2nd in the series. Skaife was due to race at Bathurst that year, however his co-driver, Peter Williamson, crashed the car during practice and the entry was withdrawn.

Skaife was recruited by Fred Gibson for 1987, however his early days at Gibson Motor Sport were spent as a mechanic for the team. During this time he learnt his way through all aspects of motorsport while also winning the 1987 Australian 2.0 Litre Touring Car Championship with a Gibson Motorsport prepared Nissan Gazelle. Skaife made his Bathurst debut in 1987, finishing 19th. In 1988, Glenn Seton left Gibson Motorsport, and Skaife was called upon to drive a third car at the Oran Park that year. He partnered George Fury at Bathurst, however the duo retired early in the race.

With Fury retiring at the end of 1988, Skaife was elevated into a full-time driving role alongside Jim Richards. Skaife won his first Bathurst in 1991 with Richards, and the following year became the only driver to win the Australian Touring Car Championship, the Bathurst 1000 and the CAMS Gold Star in the same year. Skaife won the Australian Drivers' Championship each year from 1991-1993.

Skaife won his second ATCC title in 1994, which silenced the critics that said it was the car, the Nissan GT-R, which was responsible for his success. In the following years, Gibson Motorsport struggled with sponsorship, and by 1997 Skaife was looking at the next stage in his career. He joined the Holden Racing Team for the 1997 Bathurst 1000, partnering the late Peter Brock. The pair failed to finish the race.

Skaife joined HRT full time for 1998, alongside Craig Lowndes. Skaife won his third title in 2000, and also won the Queensland 500 with Lowndes. Also in 2000, Skaife pulled off a last-to-first performance in the second race of the Clipsal 500. Skaife successfully defended his crown in 2001, taking a third Bathurst win with Tony Longhurst. In 2002, Skaife had a fantastic season, and he himself has said that the 2002 season was the best he has ever driven. Skaife won 7 of the 13 rounds, and took his fourth Bathurst title driving with Jim Richards.

2003 saw Skaife finish third in the series, winning the Sandown 500 with Todd Kelly along the way.

2004 didn't hold much for Skaife, and he finished 12th in the standings, with his best result 2nd overall at Oran Park.

In 2005, he collected his fifth Bathurst win, on the way to 5th in the title.

At Pukekohe in 2006, Skaife equalled Peter Brock's long-standing record of 37 ATCC round wins, and moved ahead when he won at Eastern Creek in 2007. That same year (2006) his Bathurst effort lasted less than one lap when he was involved in an accident as a result of him attempting to start off the line in third gear, ending in clutch slippage and abnormally slow speeds up Mountain Straight. He also made his 200th championship start at Phillip Island that year, and marked the celebration by running car number 200. Skaife collected his last round win at the 2008 L&H 500, when he paired with Garth Tander.

On October 29, 2008, Skaife announced that he would be retiring from full-time driving in the V8 Supercar Championship Series. Skaife was given a farewell and tribute at the final round of the series, which ironically was also the last V8 Supercar round at Oran Park Raceway. There has been conjecture that his retirement was premature due to the increasing pressures of Supercar team ownage and mounting debt. Ironically, his interest in the team he owned was sold to the person he bought it from, who had sold it to Skaife after becoming insolvent.

It was been reported in a number of places that Skaife has recorded 40 series wins, although Skaife has only recorded one victory since surpassing Brock's record of 37 at Eastern Creek in 2007. Since that win, Skaife has been credited with an extra round win from the Clipsal 500 in 2000.

The Clipsal 500 runs a unique set of rules where the winner of the Clipsal 500 is the winner of the second leg regardless of the pointscore for the round. However, up until the start of the 2008 season, the round winner was credited as the driver with the most points. V8 Supercars Australia decided to change the method by which the round winner was recognised to match the system for awarding the podium and Skaife's victory tally was altered.

Skaife's 40th win was from a simlilar result, with a shared victory (ironically with Garth Tander who lost the 2000 Clipsal 500 round win) in the final race of the 2008 L&H 500 at Phillip Island being credited as a round win despite having fewer points for the weekend than Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.

This is one of his dedicated fan site:

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