Mark Skaife got his first taste of a TeamVodafone Holden Commodore at the Bahrain International Circuit yesterday.
The five-time V8 Supercars champion and TeamVodafone endurance driver steered Jamie Whincup’s #1 Commodore around the 5.41km circuit as part of his role with Channel 7’s broadcast of the V8 Supercars.
Skaife also drove Rick Kelly’s Jack Daniel’s Racing Commodore at Abu Dhabi last week.
In a new-for-2010 segment, Skaife and fellow commentators and former racers Neil Crompton and Mark Larkham will drive different cars around all V8 Supercars race circuits, giving viewers the ‘inside line.’
The cars used in the pre-race segment will be restricted to the vehicles with in-car cameras, which currently includes James Courtney (Jim Beam Racing) and Mark Winterbottom (Orrcon Steel FPR), Will Davison (Toll HRT), Russell Ingall (Supercheap Auto Racing) and Fabian Coulthard (Bundaberg Red Racing). Some of the in-car cameras will change as the year goes on.
Skaife told Speedcafe.com.au that the drives aren’t a test session – simply a way to give the viewers a unique perspective of the cars and the circuit.
“It was good to have a drive of it. I wasn’t pushing on very hard, but it was great to have a drive,” he said of his first pedal of a Triple Eight Commodore.
“It wasn’t a test or anything like that. It was more about what the demands are of the circuit and being able to inform the viewers on the nuances of the new layout and all that stuff.
“One of the things that we’re trying to get across to the viewers is the difference between road cars and race cars, and from V8 Supercars perspective, we want to put an emphasis on what style of things the teams are working on from an engineering stand point.
“We cover the circuits very well, we cover the regulations and the nuances of the rules, but we want to expand that into car land.”
Skaife has raced at Bahrain before, but only on the national circuit. He said that the new section of the track adds value to the circuit.
“I think the faster flowing stuff of the track is great,” he said.
“The two slower corners are difficult for these cars. Turn 8 sand Turn 10 – these cars don’t really like hairpins. But the faster section at the end of the back straight, and down through five, six, seven is really good.
“The undulation is good as well. Any rise and fall in a race track always gives it some character. I reckon it’s a benefit, and I think it’s going to give it more passing spots.”
See below video of Skaife’s lap of the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi aboard Rick Kelly’s #15 Jack Daniel’s Commodore.