Skaife and Ingall team up in BMW M6 for Bathurst 12 Hour

Fox Sports AU

MAYBE take a seat before you read the rest of this sentence: Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall are going to race a car together at Bathurst.

No, hell hasn’t frozen over, but fellow racer Tony Longhurst may have performed a minor miracle.

Longhurst has persuaded the pair to join forces with him in one of fellow Bathurst legend Steven Richards’ two factory-backed BMW M6 GT3 cars that his BMW Team SRM will race at the 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

The once-tense relationship between Skaife and Ingall as on-track adversaries — headlined by their fiery confrontation during the 2003 Supercars season finale — has mellowed during their partnership as commentators for Fox Sports’ Supercars broadcasts.

It marks Skaife’s return to the cockpit for the first time since a one-off Porsche Carrera Cup start in 2012. Between them, the trio of Skaife, Ingall and Longhurst have a combined total of 10 wins together, a tally that rises to 14 when you throw in the triumphs of team owner Richards.

“It’s a very exciting project,” Skaife said.

“It’s one of those things that came out of nowhere, really. Who would have thought I’d have a teammate like Russell Ingall at some stage, and to be rejoining Tony Longhurst after winning in 2001 is fantastic.”

Ingall added: “Who would have thought that myself and Mark Skaife would be pairing up together to do an endurance race? I would say nobody.

“Make no mistake, we are taking this seriously. We’re going there to try and win the race. I’m looking forward to getting to Bathurst and having a big swing at it.”

The combination also sees the return of Vodafone to motorsport, joining Castrol as one of the car’s major backers, as well as a homecoming of sorts for Longhurst.

He made his name in BMW machinery, legendary driver and team chief recruiting Longhurst as the apprentice to renowned master Jim Richards at his JPS Team BMW squad in the 1980s.

Longhurst was also regarded as one of BMW’s top drivers around the world through his underdog victories aboard its little M3 against the might of Ford Sierras, Nissan GT-Rs and Holden Commodores during the early 1990s, capping his time with the German marque with the 1994 Australian Super Touring Championship.

“It’s amazing the planning that’s gone in to get to this stage. The BMW M6 GT3 is just an amazing car,” Longhurst said.

“I started my career back in 1984 with Jim Richards, and this will be my last time at The Mountain with Steve Richards. That’s pretty neat. And to do it with BMW, that’s very special for me. The best moments of my career have been in BMWs, but what a difference between the M6 GT3 and the 635 that I drove in 1984. It’s an amazing journey.

“It’s amazing the planning that’s gone in to get to this stage. The BMW M6 GT3 is just an amazing car,” Longhurst said.

“I started my career back in 1984 with Jim Richards, and this will be my last time at The Mountain with Steve Richards. That’s pretty neat. And to do it with BMW, that’s very special for me. The best moments of my career have been in BMWs, but what a difference between the M6 GT3 and the 635 that I drove in 1984. It’s an amazing journey.”

With some test laps at Phillip Island already under their belts, the trio will embark on a comprehensive preparation program to get ready for the race.

“It’s a long, long way. It’s a 12 Hour race, and it’s going to be a full field,” Longhurst said.

“For the next four months, we have to plan to be very comfortable in the car and make no mistakes. Twelve hours around Mount Panorama is a huge ask.

“We’ve got a trick team. We’re very, very fortunate to have Mark and Russell on board, and Steve and this team. We’ve got the cream of the crop. We’ve got the right people around us, no egos, it’s nice and calm.”

The 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will be run at Mount Panorama on February 3-5.

Skaife and Ingall team up in BMW M6 for Bathurst 12 Hour

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