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Mark Skaife’s Christmas come early

In 1992, Mark Skaife scored an achievement not matched since and is likely not to ever occur again.

His Christmas had come early.

Gibson Motorsport was in the midst of a golden period with its Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R program despite penalties imposed by CAMS to halt its domination, but as a side project Skaife raced in the Formula Holden class to experience open-wheelers.

At the final round of the Australian Touring Car Championship, Skaife was in the box seat to win the headlining title as well as the Australian Drivers’ Championship in Formula Holden in June.

Skaife had already achieved three round wins in the Winfield-backed GT-R and led the way approaching the final event at Oran Park where teammate Jim Richards was his closest rival. The young gun sealed his first ATCC title by winning at Oran Park as he went onto secure four more to equal Dick Johnson and Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan.

Not only achieving victory in the ATCC, but he also won the Australian Drivers’ Championship driving a Spa 003 Holden, designed in Europe by Gary Anderson as the control engines were built by Larry Perkins.

Dominating the title, Skaife won three out of five rounds and finished second in the other two as he defeated Mark Larkham for the crown.

And to top off quite a remarkable season he won the Bathurst 1000 in the GT-R’s last appearance at the Mountain.

“The year 1992 was one that will be in memory forever because it was probably the best year in terms of winning everything,” Skaife reflected via his documentary.

“We won the Australian Drivers’ Championship, the Australian Touring Car Championship, which at the time I was the youngest ever at that point and then to win Bathurst. It’s never been done in Australian motorsport.

“That day at Oran Park, to win the Australian Drivers’ Championship and Australian Touring Car Championship I was never out of the car! I was in the open-wheeler or the GT-R and if you said to young guys today go drive the touring car, but go jump in that open-wheeler afterwards, they’d think you were mad.

“I will always remember waking up ahead of the two races and thinking this day is a big one.”

Skaife’s open-wheel aspirations did take him to Europe where he contested the final two rounds of the 1992 FIA Formula 3 Championship where he finished a best of 16th at Nogaro. He also contested the FIA World Touring Car Cup at Monza the next year in a Nissan Primera finishing a best of 28th in what was an unfamiliar circuit and model.