Skaife eyes lap record in Red Rocket - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Skaife eyes lap record in Red Rocket

By Todd Balym 06/10/2006 07:46:23 PM Comments (0)

Mark Skaife believes he can break the Bathurst 1000 lap record after easily grabbing provisional pole position on Friday in his No.2 Holden Racing Team Commodore.

Skaife missed Greg Murphy's 2003 lap record by less than two tenths of a second but says his 'Red Rocket' is clearly capable of going faster in Saturday's top ten shootout.

The defending and five-times Bathurst champion continued to flaunt his superior speed at Mount Panorama by clocking a two minutes 06.9764 seconds lap time - narrowly missing Murphy's record of 2:06.8594.

Ford's Jason Bright was second fastest after he posting a late flyer in the 45 minute qualifying session to slip into second position with a 2:07.0967 in his Falcon.

The rest of the field however were no match - third placed Rick Kelly over half a second behind in a time of 2:07.6780 in a Commodore.

Skaife says he's ready to chase the record books on Saturday, but is aware he cannot put one lap of glory ahead of the bigger picture of winning the 161-lap race on Sunday.

"There was probably a couple of tenths in it if I did a better lap," said Skaife.

"I had a fair woopsie in the chase and did not make the end of the lap as nice as I would have liked.

"There's not a bloke in this room who would not like to better Greg's time.

"But it's about taking care and not doing anything stupid.

"You have to be 100 per cent committed and at the same time not make any mistakes.

"It's only one lap, it doesn't mean too much."

Skaife's co-driver Garth Tander backed his teammate to break the record, and also warned his rivals that the team's superior qualifying speed is nothing compared to the race pace they are preparing to set on Sunday.

"There's still a lot of time there," he said.

"We feel the car can probably improve in the first sector. There's not a lot left at the top of the mountain. "I can feel already that it's a better race car than qualifying car."

Last year's runner up Jason Richards, driving a Commodore, was fourth best in 2:07.6922 even though he missed all of Thursday's practice session because co-driver Andrew Jones slammed into the wall on the second lap of the day and the car sat in the garage for repairs throughout the two and a half hour session.

Richards said his Commodore was the "worst car he'd ever driven at this place" when he first started the lower qualifying session, but the team somehow converted it into a competitive vehicle.

"We had a chat and looked at the data and really improved the car out of this world," said Richards.

Four-times Bathurst winner Murphy (2:07.8530) slotted into fifth position followed by Ford pair, Russell Ingall (2:07.8768) and Craig Lowndes (2:07.8939), Holden's Steven Richards (2:07.9130) and Dean Canto (2:07.9895) with Steven Johnson (2:08.1190) tenth in a Falcon.

The final grid positions for Sunday's 161-lap race will be determined in Saturday afternoon's (3.40pm AEST) top ten shootout.

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