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It would be sad if he failed to make the cut...:s6:


Not even the reigning king of V8 Supercars, the Holden Racing Team’s Mark Skaife, can avoid the pre-qualifying curse for the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, with HRT today nominating the 2001 series champion as their representative in the do-or-die pre-qualifying showdown.

Skaife’s is the latest name to be added to AVESCO’s all-star pre-qualifying bill, to be held at Mallala Raceway on the Wednesday prior to the Clipsal carnival, joining stable-mates Greg Murphy and Todd Kelly, and Ford’s Craig Lowndes and John Bowe. As many as 20 drivers will battle for the eleven remaining positions on the Adelaide grid.

But rather than criticise the controversial rule that forces three-car teams to risk one of their entrants in pre-qualifying, the crack factory outfit is using it to its advantage.

Skaife will be sent to Mallala ahead of the team’s inexperienced ‘Young Lion’, Rick Kelly, gifting the teenager automatic entry while Skaife racks up invaluable extra testing miles.

It’s a loophole that the team is keen to exploit, despite the risk.

"It's obvious with the quality of driver that has to pre-qualify that the competition to make the grid will be intense and that's something that Mark, with his experience, is better suited for," said HRT chief Jeff Grech.

"Without doubt, too, there are performance gains to be made. With Mark pre-qualifying, the Holden Racing Team, like the others involved, will gain some very beneficial track time on the new Dunlop control tyre that will hopefully assist the team as a whole when we get to the Clipsal (500).”

Pre-qualifiers will have 40 minutes of track time at Mallala Raceway: a 20-minute warm-up and the 20-minute pre-qualifying session.

Grech said the team wanted to give Kelly every opportunity to perform, while providing maximum exposure for Kelly's sponsors – particularly after the 19-year-old Victorian failed to secure wildcard entry into the Australian Grand Prix support meeting.

Skaife is upbeat about the assignment, agreeing to take on the responsibility after a team meeting last week.

"Sure, there are risks,” he said. “But there are risks at any race meeting and in this case, I agree there's much to be gained.

“Mallala is a circuit that, as a category, we haven't been to for a while so to have some track time there with the new control tyre on a circuit that has some resemblance to the Adelaide street layout is a benefit.”

While Skaife suggested the loophole may have to be addressed, AVESCO last week reneged on its decision to force three-car teams to pre-qualify at every over-subscribed round of the series, with event entry to be determined solely by current championship position after Adelaide.

Meanwhile, a row between Russell Ingall and Larry Perkins has seemingly ended, with Perkins nominating himself for pre-qualifying duties.

Perkins originally put Ingall’s name forward for the task, with Ingall publicly questioning his decision in the press.
 

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Interesting that Seto has been the only one to test on his race tyres to date.

Skaife has already had a fair bit to do with the new control tyre, So the story goes the first batch were not to Mr Skaifes liking at all, so Dunlop went back and made a tyre that is said to be extremely close the Bridgestone, which was far more in keeping Mr Skaife happy.....
 

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At the 3FB Cheese Wheel
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This would put the biggest dent in his ego, I think it's great!
 

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I think it's unfair that teams can choose who pre qualifys for them. as far as I'm concerned Skaife has already qualified there is no way he should be able to do it for Rick Kelly. Surely it is not a true indication of who should be there and who misses out.
 
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