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Skaife to race his former Nissan Skyline at Phillip Island Classic

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SYDNEY – Feb 14, 2013: Five times Australian Touring Car Championship winner Mark Skaife will be reunited with the Gibson Motorsport team and his former Nissan Skyline at this year’s Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport from March 8-10.

Skaife, who retired from full-time touring car racing in 2008, but has since been a driving force behind the V8 Supercars ‘Car of the Future’ program, will drive the HR 31 GTS-R sedan in which he contested much of the 1990 Australian Touring Car Championship.

He will be the third Australian Champion making their Historic Racing debut at the 2013 'Classic. Fellow six-time Bathurst winner Larry Perkins will return to racing after a 10-year absence to drive the ex-Kevin Bartlett 1985 'Pantera Bianca' coupe in the meeting's International Sportscar Challenge, while four-time Australian Driving Champion Alfredo Costanzo will race the ex-Bartlett 1971 McLaren M10B Formula 5000 in open wheeler events.

Mark Skaife drove the Nissan Skyline HR 31 into fourth place in the final round of the 1990 ATCC at Oran Park, with the race won by his teammate Jim Richards in the team's then-new, four wheel drive Skyline GT-R. Their combined performances secured the first of Nissan’s landmark three consecutive Australian Touring Car Championship titles.

The two wheel drive, 440HP, turbocharged six cylinder 2.0-litre HR 31 was acquired recently by Richards, but a clash of dates with the Touring Car Masters in Sydney means he is unable to drive it at the Phillip Island Classic.

Although disappointed at not being with the team at the ‘Classic, Richards said he was delighted that he and Skaife were again working with Fred Gibson. “However I have told Mark to look after the car and if he breaks it, he owns it!” he added dryly.

Skaife was recruited to Fred Gibson’s Gibson Motorsport in the mid-1980s, spending his early days as a mechanic for the team before winning the 1987 Australian 2.0 Litre Touring Car Championship with a Gibson Motorsport- prepared Nissan Gazelle.

He and Gibson together won Bathurst as driver and manager three times during a long and successful touring car and open wheel racing relationship.

Skaife said he was excited to be reunited with his old Skyline racing car.

“This is a unique opportunity – one I just couldn't pass up,” he 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.

“I hope that seeing Gibson Motorsport again running one of the great cars of Australian motorsport history will inspire the fans there to experience all the old touring cars".

Gibson Motorsport has recently been reborn and is currently responsible for the maintenance and development of several historic racing cars as well as many classic road cars.

The HR31 that Skaife will drive is one of three Nissans that Gibson Motorsport will field at this year’s Phillip Island Classic.

Skaife’s ‘teammates’ are the similar former Nissan team HR31 owned and driven by Robert Marshall and the ex George Fury DR30 RS-2000, owned by Carolyn Kruger and to be driven at Phillip Island by fellow Victorian Luke Ellery. The DR30 was raced in 1986-87 and still carries all the battle scars from its last ATCC outing.