Supercars champion Mark Skaife couldn’t be happier Holden have found a way to stay in the championship but admits sadness over the decline of Holden Racing Team.
The manufacturer announced on Tuesday it would provide factory support for Triple Eight Race Engineering for the next three years.
Under the new agreement the Red Bull Racing team will become the Red Bull Holden Racing Team from 2017.
The current Holden team – run by Walkinshaw Racing – will lose factory support and also the brand which it helped develop into the most successful Supercars team over the past 26 years.
Skaife, one of the main drivers in the rise of HRT during the 1990s, admits it’s an outcome that’s brought mixed emotions.
“On the one hand it’s a very good and – from an operational standpoint – clever way of ensuring HRT is sustainable and has longevity,” Skaife told AAP on Wednesday.
“On the other hand, to be honest, it saddens me. I had a long history since replacing Peter Brock at the end of 1997. Some of my most fond memories of racing and the team were part of HRT whether that was just me driving there or owning it.
“The success of the team is something I’m very, very proud of and especially the people involved over that period.”
Since switching from Ford to Holden in 2010, Triple Eight have consistently outperformed Walkinshaw, claiming over 100 race wins and winning four of the past five championships.
Skaife said despite a history involving six drivers’ championships – including his own hat-trick of titles from 2000-02 – and seven Bathurst 1000s, HRT had simply been usurped by their rivals in the race for Holden’s funding.
“HRT is the Collingwood of Supercar racing. It’s got the fan appeal and the brand and success behind it to make that claim,” he said.
“It puts a smile on my face when I think that HRT will be in capable hands and (Triple Eight owner Roland Dane) and the team thoroughly deserve that factory status based on their performance.
“The simple fact is Walkinshaw’s recent performance, especially in the Car of the Future modern-era, is lacklustre at best and that’s clearly why the decision was made.”