Touring car hero Mark Skaife will reunite one of Australian motorsport’s most successful racing trios at next month’s Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport.
Skaife is set to race the Group A HR31 GTS-R Nissan Skyline he drove throughout the 1990 Australian Touring Car Championship, which was recently purchased by former teammate and fellow touring car legend Jim Richards.
Richards was set to race the Skyline himself at the historic meeting, but sought Skaife as a replacement due to the Phillip Island event clashing with the Sydney Motorsport Park round of the Touring Car Masters series.
The Skyline is being prepared by Gibson Motorsport, which originally built the car, with the legendary team led by Fred Gibson and Alan Heaphy now focusing on historic road and race car preparation.
Skaife and Richards won two of their three joint Bathurst 1000 victories (1991 and 1992) aboard Gibson Motorsport Skylines, and Skaife is looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the two-wheel drive 328kW 2.0 litre turbocharged racer.
“This is a unique opportunity - one I just couldn't pass up,” Skaife said.
“The combination of driving for Fred, in Jim's Skyline, at one of the world’s most decorated Historic meetings, held at Australia’s best permanent race circuit, is something that will bring back many great memories for me.”
Richards is similarly keen to have Skaife as his backup plan, but warned of the Skyline’s value: “I have told Mark to look after the car and if he breaks it, he owns it!” Richards said.
Skaife will be joined by fellow Australian champions Larry Perkins and Alfredo Costanzo at this year’s Phillip Island Classic, with Perkins stepping behind the wheel for the first time since retiring from professional racing ten years ago.
Six-time Barhurst winner Perkins will race the ex-Kevin Bartlett, Paul Halstead-built 'Pantera Bianca' De Tomaso Pantera GT racer - the first time it has turned a wheel in anger in 26 years.
Four-time Australian Driving Champion Costanzo will compete in the also-ex-Kevin Bartlett 1971 McLaren M10B Formula 5000 open wheeler.
The 2013 Phillip Island classic will take place at the famous Victorian race circuit from March 8-10.