Skaife at the Australian GP in 2006
|V8 Supercar Record|
|2011 Championship position||29th (532 pts)|
Mark Stephen Skaife OAM (born 3 April 1967 in Gosford, New South Wales) is an Australian motor racing driver. Skaife is a five time champion of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, including its predecessor, the Australian Touring Car Championship. He is also a six-time winner of Australia's most prestigious domestic motor race, the Bathurst 1000. On 29 October 2008, he announced his retirement from full-time touring car racing but continues to compete on a part-time basis. Skaife's most visible role today is as a colour-commentator for Channel 7's broadcast of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
In 2004, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, for services to motor racing and charity. In 2006, Skaife set a Guinness World Record with the fastest speed of 277.16 km/h for a production ute, driving a HSV Maloo at the Woomera Prohibited Area.
Skaife began racing karts in the 1980s. 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, finishing second in the series. Skaife again finished runner up in 1986. Skaife was due to race at Bathurst that year, however his co-driver and team owner, Peter Williamson, crashed the team's Toyota Supra heavily during practice and the entry was withdrawn.
Gibson Motor Sport
Skaife was recruited by Fred Gibson for 1987. However, his early days at Gibson Motor Sport were spent as a 'gofer' for the team with no promise that he would get a drive. 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, breaking Toyota's stranglehold on the 2.0 litre category. Skaife made his Bathurst debut in 1987, finishing 19th in the Gazelle with the Adelaide Hills based Nissan dealer Grant Jarrett. Skaife made his Australian Touring Car Championship debut in 1988, driving the team's third Nissan Skyline HR31 GTS-R at Oran Park that year. He went on to partner George Fury at both Sandown (where they led for a number of laps before gearbox failure with Skaife at the wheel put them out with just 35 laps remaining) and Bathurst and was involved in a practice crash at Forrest's Elbow which damaged the front and rear of the Skyline. Skaife didn't get to drive in the race as the Skyline threw its fan belt on lap 17 which instantly overheated the turbocharged engine, causing its retirement.
In 1989, Glenn Seton left to form his own team, Glenn Seton Racing. Skaife also drove a third Nissan at certain rounds of the ATCC, with his first drive coming in Round 5 at Mallala in South Australia where he avoided a first turn accident and ran third for the first half of the race before finally finishing 5th. Later in the year, a steady run in the 1989 Tooheys 1000 saw Jim Richards and Skaife finish 3rd outright.
When Fury was released by the team at the end of 1989, Skaife was elevated into a full-time driving role alongside Jim Richards. Skaife also had the distinction of giving the 4WD, twin-turbo Nissan GT-R at Mallala in the 1990 ATCC. Skaife showed that he and the GT-R would be a force to reckon with, storming to the lead before a broken CV joint saw him retire just before half distance.
Although the GT-R only just failed to qualify for the top ten at the 1990 Tooheys 1000, Richards, who started the race, spread eagled the leading Ford Sierra's to be in the lead after just 10 laps. Skaife later got his first taste at leading Bathurst and although problems saw he and Richards fade to finish 18th, Skaife set the outright lap record at Mount Panorama with a lap of 2:15.46 (faster than Richards qualifying time of 2:15.63), lowering the lap record set in 1988 by Tony Longhurst in a Sierra by some 3.6 seconds.
Mark Skaife finished second to Richards in the 1991 ATCC with the GT-R proving to be a class above the field, their only opposition coming on the tighter circuits from the BMW M3 Evolution of Tony Longhurst and Alan Jones. He won his first ever ATCC race by taking out Round 3 of the series at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth. Skaife actually outscored Richards 142 points to 137 over the 9 race series, but the rules required drivers to drop their worst result from the point score which left Richards winning on 137 from Skaife on 132.
Skaife won his first Bathurst in 1991 with Richards. He became the first driver at Bathurst since Peter Brock in 1983 to claim pole position, the race win and the fastest lap. Skaife's Tooheys Top 10 pole position time of 2:12.630 would stand as the fastest ever Group A touring car lap of the Mount Panorama Circuit, while his fastest lap of 2:14.50 remains the Group A lap record (though he set the time in the teams second car and not the #1 car he shared with Richards). The race was also the first since the pace car was introduced in for the World Touring Car Championship round in 1987 to be run without any pace car periods which resulted in a new race record time of 6:19:14.80. This time would stand until 2010 (when Skaife won with Craig Lowndes) and remains (as of 2013) the fourth fastest Bathurst 1000 ever run.
The following year became the only driver to win the Australian Touring Car Championship, the Bathurst 1000 and the CAMS Gold Star for the Australian Drivers' Championship in the same year. Skaife won the Formula Brabham Australian Drivers' Championship each year from 1991–1993. In 1992 Skaife had briefly raced in the International Formula 3000 championship, he took part in the last two races driving for the 3001 International team. His best result was a 16th place at Nogaro in France. In 1993 he returned to Nogaro to race in the French Super Tourer round as a warm up event for the World Touring Car Cup in a Nissan Primera. He and Tony Longhurst represented Australia in that event.
Skaife won his second ATCC title in 1994. In the following years, Gibson Motor Sport struggled with sponsorship after the ban of tobacco advertising saw the team lose long-time sponsor Winfield. Skaife joined the Holden Racing Team for the 1997 Bathurst 1000, partnering Peter Brock. The pair failed to finish the race.
Skaife also drove internationally in 1997. Midway through the year when his then main employer Gibson Motor Sport was having a limited run due to a lack of funds, Skaife joined the Newcastle United Lister Storm team at the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans. His car (#46), shared with former Formula One driver Julian Bailey and Brazilian Thomas Erdos, qualified in 29th place (25th in the GT1 class) but retired after 77 laps with terminal gearbox trouble.
Holden Racing Team
Skaife joined the Holden Racing Team 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 seven of the thirteen 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 did not 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. He also made his 200th championship start at Phillip Island that year, and marked the celebration by running car number 200. Skaife collected his final round win at the 2008 L&H 500, when he paired with Garth Tander.
On 29 October 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 was also the last V8 Supercar round at Oran Park Raceway. Skaife sold his interest in Holden Racing Team to Tom Walkinshaw, who owned the team before his UK business collapsed in 2002.
With a new rule prohibiting full-time drivers from being team-mates for the endurance races (Phillip Island and Bathurst) in the 2010 V8 Supercar Championship Series, Skaife paired up with Craig Lowndes at Triple Eight Race Engineering for both events. At Phillip Island Skaife finished first together with Craig Lowndes over FPR's Mark Winterbottom and Luke Youlden. The pair backed this up with a win at Bathurst giving Skaife his sixth win in the event and 41st career round win. For 2011 Mark has once again joined Craig Lowndes for Phillip Island, where they won, and for the Bathurst 1000 where they placed second in the closest ever non formed finish of 0.2917 seconds.
Skaife is currently co-presenter on Seven Sport's coverage of V8 Supercar races and co-host of the sports program V8 Xtra. In addition, Skaife also presents segments on lifestyle program Guide to the Good Life.
In 2008, there had been debate over whether or not Skaife has recorded 39 or 40 V8 Supercar round wins. At the start of 2008, Skaife was retrospectively awarded the win of the 2000 Clipsal 500 in place of Garth Tander, giving him his 39th round win at the time. Skaife recorded his '40th' round win at the L&H 500 with Tander later in the year. However, the 2000 Clipsal 500 win has been awarded back to Tander since then, leaving Skaife's tally at 39. Skaife has since won the 2010 L&H 500 taking his total to 40 wins, then 41 wins after victory in the 2010 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. This total was again increased in 2011 to 42 round wins after taking out the 2011 L&H 500 event with Craig Lowndes.
This situation arose because of the unique format of the Adelaide 500. In recent years, the winner of the second leg has been seen as the round winner, regardless of points. In 2000, Skaife only finished with fourth highest points for the weekend, but won the second race. This situation also arose in 2007, where Rick Kelly was awarded the round win instead of his brother Todd, despite Todd recording the most points for the round.
Complete World Touring Car Championship results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1987||Peter Jackson Nissan Racing||Nissan Gazelle||MNZ||JAR||DIJ||NUR||SPA
Complete International Formula 3000 results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap.)
Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results
|GT1||46||Newcastle United Lister|| Julian Bailey
|Lister Storm GTL||D||77|
|Jaguar 7.0L V12|
- Guy Hand (29 October 2008). "Skaife announces retirement from V8s". FoxSportsNews. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
- "Official site of the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series: Teams & Drivers: Driver – Mark Skaife".
- "Skaife honour record". Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
- "Desert Storm". Guinness World Records. 27 June 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
- Holden Racing Team DVD
- "Farewell Skaifey", 2008 NRMA Motoring & Services Gran Finale official race programme