It’s more than 30 years since Mark Skaife won his first Bathurst 1000 and not quite 40 since he nearly made his debut at the Mountain, but the aura is never lost when the Mountain comes into view.
Skaife was supposed to make his debut in 1986 partnering the experienced Peter Williamson in a Toyota Supra, but the well known dealer crashed heavily approaching Murray’s Corner heavily damaging the entry and also injuring himself.
Required to wait another year when he joined the Fred Gibson-led Peter Jackson Nissan squad in a Nissan Gazelle teaming with another car dealer in Grant Jarrett, where the young gun had to qualify the class entry to make the race on behalf of his co-driver.
Now reflecting on the race having won it six-times at the latest stop of the Peter Brock Trophy Tour in Sydney, Skaife revealed what makes the race at the Mountain so prestigious.
“I often get asked why is Bathurst so special because it sort of has this grand final, stop the nation in the day of sport status,” said Skaife.
“But it’s mostly about the race track. The race track, I mean the race track is just mad. It’s super fast, it’s got massive consequences, it’s unforgiving, if you make a little mistake it bites you and because of the history in addition to the things that we’ve seen there you need to have a very healthy respect for the place.
“In essence, the track is what makes the event so special.”
Providing his tips for both the ‘Bow Tie’ and ‘Blue Oval’, Skaife believes the master and apprentice from Red Bull Ampol Racing will be hard to beat, though don’t discount a Walkinshaw Andretti United turnaround.
“I’m going to stay with the pick that I had at Sandown for Chev/GM, I think Broc Feeney and Jamie Whincup will take a lot of beating,” Skaife predicted. “Feeney continues to improve and Whincup is probably destined to win another couple of Bathursts.
“For Ford and the Mustang camp, I reckon Holdsworth and Mostert will take a lot beating. I know the Shell V-Power Racing Team entries probably go there as the lead Mustangs, but I think the last time we saw that combination at Bathurst they won and I think they are going to be very, very powerful up there.”