The five-time V8 Supercars champion and six-time Bathurst 1000 winner will compete in a 2011-spec Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer in a guest entry, which will mark his first competitive outing since last year’s Bathurst 1000 (which he won with Craig Lowndes) as well as his first-ever race in a left-hand drive vehicle.
This year’s Grand Prix will also be the return appearance for the Porsche series, which last raced at Albert Park in 2008.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve had great results at Albert Park over the years. I’ve always enjoyed driving there and the Porsche will definitely suit the Albert Park circuit,” a clearly excited Skaife said of the announcement.
“When I retired from full-time driving I did say I would pick out the events I enjoyed. Clearly the Australian Grand Prix is one of those. At this stage of my career I can select the event when the opportunities arise and this is obviously one of them. I’m looking forward to it, it should be good fun.”
Skaife had his first test outing in the Porsche last week at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, and the signs looked positive when the 43-year-old posted competitive lap times in this unfamiliar machinery.
“It was my first time ever driving left-hand drive race car. To drive a car like that on the latest-spec Michelin tyres is much different to anything I’ve been used to and was a great experience, especially around a fast, flowing European-style circuit,” he added.
“I really enjoyed it. All cars react differently based on the style of car and how they achieve their performance. The Porsche was easy to acclimatise to, especially because it’s designed like a race car.
“We made a few little changes throughout the test day – we made some gains and made some losses like you normally would in any motor racing, especially with cars you’re unfamiliar with. At the end of the day I was really happy.”
More importantly for the series, Skaife’s involvement is a boost for the series, giving it a high-profile in the marque’s 60th year of involvement in Australia.
“Having Mark on board is a glowing endorsement for Carrera Cup Australia, which comes at a great time for the brand,” added Porsche Cars Australia Motorsport Manager, Jamey Blaikie.
“Running a guest entry with a VIP driver was always on our radar and Mark was the obvious choice. We needed someone who had a strong profile within Australia, but who would also be competitive. Mark was a perfect fit.”
[Original image via Australian Grand Prix]
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