New TeamVodafone endurance race driver Mark Skaife says he didn’t have to think too long about signing for the champion V8 Supercar team.
When the new V8 Supercar rule was passed to prohibit regular drivers from pairing together in the endurance races, Skaife was instantly Triple Eight’s first choice – and Speedcafe.com.au was the first to link Skaife to TeamVodafone. CLICK HERE for Speedcafe’s December 12 story.
The five-time Bathurst winner said at the launch of TeamVodafone’s 2010 challenger – the outfit’s first season in Commodores – that the offer from Triple Eight was too good to turn down.
“When I announced my full-time retirement at the end of 2008, I said that I was going to leave the enduros open,” he told Foxsports News.
“I did the enduros with Greg Murphy last year. I really enjoyed them. It was a fantastic experience and you make sure you go back to those races and do a good job.
“Then the offer come up to come and join Craig Lowndes at TeamVodafone. I didn’t have to think about it too much, because it was a great opportunity.”
Skaife and Lowndes drove together at the Holden Racing Team between 1998 and 2000, winning the Queensland 500 together in 2000.
Since then, the relationships has been tense at times, but he hopes that the combination can add a 10th win to their combined Bathurst totals.
“It would be great to do it (win Bathurst). One of the things about me joining him is that he can’t beat me if we’re together! There’s a bit of science in that!” he joked.
“We know it’s a tough event. We know it’s the grand final of Australian motorsport, but certainly one that you don’t need too much extra motivation.
“We’ve been close rivals, strong rivals over a long period of time, but we’ve also been team-mates.
“We get along pretty well, and the last time we drove together was 2000 and Lowndesy obviously went across to the dark side for a while – he was with Ford – but he’s back with Holden, which facilitates an act for me to comeback and drive with him.
“I’m really excited. When know what we both like from the car and the team’s very, very good. I’m looking forward to it.”
Skaife also says that fellow TeamVodafone driver Jamie Whincup can emulate Skaife’s championship feat by winning three titles-in-a-row.
“I think he can. Over the last couple of years, he’s been very, very good. His consistently is good,” he said.
“The thing to win a championship, it’s so hard and so demanding week in, week out, different circuits, different circumstances. He’s shown over the last couple of years that he is absolutely the man to beat.”
The relationship between Skaife and Lowndes hasn’t always been rosey, though. See below for the incident at the Clipsal 500 in Lowndes’ first year with Ford …