Motorsport: Skaife back to Bathurst with Holden wildcard

Mark Skaife. Photo / NZPA
Mark Skaife. Photo / NZPA

V8 Supercars great Mark Skaife will return to Mount Panorama for this year's Bathurst 1000 - this time as a team mentor.

Skaife was yesterday revealed as one of the mystery men behind a Holden wildcard entry backed by Triple Eight and sponsors Xbox.

The VF Commodore will be driven by Britain's triple World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx and dual DTM titleholder Mattias Ekstrom of Sweden.

The entry, in Xbox One livery, will run independently from Red Bull Racing but will have the same specifications as the cars used by Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.

"This is like putting another car in the Indy 500 - this is a major coup," said Skaife. "It's an unbelievable thing for Australian motor racing and for V8 Supercars."

The rumour mill went into overdrive in July when the V8 Supercars commission - of which Skaife is chairman - rubber-stamped the wildcard, with ex-MotoGP star Casey Stoner mooted as a driver.

Six-time Bathurst winner Skaife said the team had about six or seven drivers on their initial list - including Stoner, who has been driving for Red Bull Racing in the V8 Supercars' second-tier category since switching to four wheels at the start of the season.

But the final decision on the line-up ultimately fell to Triple Eight owner Roland Dane.

"If Casey wanted to do it, I'm sure Roland would've put him in," Skaife said.

"One of the things that was important for us was to have two world-class international drivers ... because we're continuing to expand our market and that's one of the things that's going to work for us with this venture."

Priaulx has previously competed at Bathurst in a V8 Supercar, though his best result in the series was in a Triple Eight Holden paired with Lowndes at Surfers Paradise in 2010.

Ekstrom will be making his debut at Mount Panorama.

The V8 Supercars' endurance series starts next week at the Sandown 500, before the Bathurst 1000 on October 10-13.

- AAP

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