Only a handful can win Bathurst: Skaife - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Only a handful can win Bathurst: Skaife

By Cameron Tomarchio 04/10/2007 06:01:11 AM Comments (0)

Mark Skaife believes only a handful of teams can win Sunday's Bathurst 1000.

The five-time winner said the growing trend towards teams pairing their top two drivers in the same car left most of the field out of the running.

Retiring legend John Bowe agreed, the two-time winner saying most teams would be happy to come away with a top ten finish.

"I think lots of times in the past, teams decided to split people because of the championship scenarios, but I think what everyone's saying now is 'Hey, if we have the best guys together, whatever happens with strategy we're ok'," said Skaife.

"I don't remember as many teams throwing their eggs in one basket as this year."

Championship leading Toll HSV Dealer duo Rick Kelly and Garth Tander, defending Bathurst champions Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup, Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards and Skaife's own pairing with Holden Racing Team partner Todd Kelly were the chief contenders, according to Skaife.

But the 40-year-old also felt Stone Brothers Racing's two cars had a good chance, even though they had decided to split their first choice drivers James Courtney and Russell Ingall.

"With James Courtney or Russell Ingall for instance, if there's a situation where there's a safety car late in the race, whatever's happened with your co-driver is all gone. If they're in good track position and they're fast enough then they're in."

This will be Bowe's 23rd Bathurst start, the most of any fulltime V8 Supercar driver in the field.

The Ford veteran is coming off a 12th place finish at last month's Sandown 500, which was Paul Cruickshank Racing's best-ever round result.

Bowe will be partnered with Sydney young-gun Jonathon Webb, who impressed at Sandown.

"In years gone by you could almost get (in the top ten) by circulating and staying out of trouble, but with the current level of V8 Supercar competition you really need to be pushing hard the whole time," Bowe said.

"There's so many strong cars and driver combinations that the field will be incredibly close, but there's still a lot to be had for keeping a cool head.

"If it rains during the race, anything can happen - the form guide will change dramatically.

"It's easy to make a mistake at Bathurst in dry conditions. If it's wet I wouldn't be surprised to see plenty of drivers come unstuck, even some of the main contenders, which could turn the race and championship on its head."

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