Motorsport: Mark Skaife's bold Bathurst predictions

Jamie Whincup drives through pit lane during the Bathurst 1000 last year. Photo / Getty Images
Jamie Whincup drives through pit lane during the Bathurst 1000 last year. Photo / Getty Images

Mark Skaife has backed Jamie Whincup to further cement his Supercars legend this weekend by claiming his fifth Bathurst 1000 crown this weekend.

As an army of $2 million Supercars transporters rolled into Bathurst on Tuesday, Holden legend Skaife ran the rule over the field and boldly predicted Whincup to raise the Peter Brock trophy on Sunday.

Skaife said the highlight of this year's 1000km battle would be the fight between Red Bull Racing Australia teammates Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen.

"This will be a fierce battle between the two cars in the RBRA garage," five-time Bathurst winner Skaife said.

"There is nothing in speed between Whincup and Van Gisbergen, and you can also throw Craig Lowndes into that mix in the sister Triple Eight Race Engineering garage.

"It will be an intriguing battle and it will come down to who makes the least mistakes."

The Favourites

"It has to be Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell," Skaife said of the Red Bull Racing Australia duo who last won the race in 2012.

"Jamie speed there is phenomenal and PD has always gone well there. They are a formidable combination racing in the top team. They will be hard to beat."

The Contenders

Van Gisbergen has never won a Bathurst 1000 and finished ninth in last month's Sandown 500, but Skaife expects the series leader's partnership with Alex Premat to turn it around.

"There is nothing in speed between Whincup and Van Gisbergen," Skaife said.

"They will go better at Bathurst than they did at Sandown. There will be huge pressure in that garage and there will be a huge level of intensity. Van Gisbergen is leading the championship and I think he will take it to Jamie in terms of speed. Premat will be strong too."

The Darkhorses

Chaz Mostert is the $11 TAB fifth favourite despite winning at Bathurst in 2014.

"He would be a favourite if it wasn't for his crash last year," Skaife said of the Prodrive Racing Australia driver, who will team up with Steve Owen this weekend.

"He will be quick and the only question mark is how he will react to being back at Bathurst. He will have a couple of moments going back to that spot. There will be some nerves but what will work in his favour is that the place he had is accident is not grip limited. It is a flat-out, almost straight part of the track. Owen is a very good choice for his co-driver."

The Long Shots

They may be $81 for the win, $21 for a podium and $2.60 for a top-10 finish, but Skaife warned Cameron Waters and Jack Le Broq could surprise in the other Prodrive Racing Australia car.

"This pair is young and fast," Skaife said.

"They fear nothing and I have no doubt they will be quick. They are both doing a lot of driving and they will be a chance if they manage to stay out of trouble. They have to make sure they are there at the end."

Don't Write Off

Although Rick Kelly hasn't won at the mountain in 12 years and Russell Ingall's dry spell dates back to 1997, Skaife refused to rule out the former Bathurst champions winning in car 15 for Nissan Motorsport Australia on Sunday

"This is an older combination that can't be written off simply because of their experience," Skaife said.

"The outright amount of experience will serve them well and put them in contention. Both of these guys have won here before and they know exactly what it takes to win. They will stay out of strive and if they are in contention in the last hour then they will be very hard to beat.

"(Craig) Lowndes and (Steven) Richards are the other ones that you can never write off."


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