Surfers Paradise: Friday qualifying report

Skaife pulls old V8 Supercar out of the cupboard to qualify fastest Five-time V8 Supercar Championship Series winner Mark Skaife pulled an old car out of a year long mothballed existence and "carried" it around the streets of Surfers Paradise...

Skaife pulls old V8 Supercar out of the cupboard to qualify fastest

Five-time V8 Supercar Championship Series winner Mark Skaife pulled an old car out of a year long mothballed existence and "carried" it around the streets of Surfers Paradise to qualify fastest for the Gillette Challenge at the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast.

Skaife found the Holden Racing Team car in a back shed, dusted it off and had it prepared within a week as a result of a crash by second team driver Jason Plato at Bathurst which left his brand new Commodore a virtual write-off.

It seemed that familiar surrounds were kind to Skaife as he piloted the car that won Bathurst in 2001 and 2002 into the fastest position ahead of arch rival Caltex Havoline Ford driver Russell Ingall and resurgent Ford Performance Racing's Craig Lowndes.

Ingall's Stone Brothers Racing team-mate and current series leader Marcos Ambrose was fourth in the Pirtek Falcon with Rick Kelly fifth in the Kmart Racing Holden Commodore.

Skaife's old car, which he has dubbed the "Golden Child", has treated him well over the years and strangely may mean a resurgent end to the 2004 season.

"It's the engine package we have used for 10 years and there's no doubt it has been very good to us for all of those years," Skaife said.

"As a whole the car is probably not as responsive as the ones we drive these days but if it means you have to battle with it a little more so be it."

Skaife's familiarity with the Gold Coast circuit, even though he has never won an event here, was also an ally as he finished his second last lap with the flyer. Still, less than one second separated the top six cars.

"It's a great place to do these fast laps," Skaife said. "It's great to see tenths of second between the top cars. To have five guys so close is what we what we are all about."

Last year's winner Ingall is well placed to win on his "home" track once again, something he hopes will help win him the championship as we close in on the last three round of the 2004 season.

"Look at all the goings on so far this year," Ingall said.

"Based on that anything could happen and the last three rounds are going to be the toughest by far. Realistically we have got a great shot."

Like Skaife, Lowndes is enjoying a renaissance in his Ford Falcon having finished second to Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly at Bathurst less than a fortnight ago.

"It's great for the guys coming off Bathurst," Lowndes said.

"For us it's a great result to qualify third. We are in there with a fight."

-avesco-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Jason Plato , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes
Teams Holden Racing Team