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Sunday, May 26, 2024


SUPERCARS’ newest team owner Peter Xiberras will get behind the wheel of an ex-Larry Perkins V8 Supercar at the Sydney Classic this weekend.

The PremiAir Racing boss will take time out from his busy schedule to drive a 2001-built VX Commodore in the 5 Litre Touring Car Super Sprint sessions at Sydney Motorsport Park.

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One of a number of classic V8s in his collection, Xiberras’ car is PE 038, which served as the regular season entry for Larry Perkins in 2001 and new Castrol recruit Steven Richards the following year.

Unusually the car has no Bathurst 1000 history as it was rested for the endurance races in both years, before being sold to Jay Verdnik’s Development Series team for 2004.

It was raced in the second tier by Verdnik (2004), Aaron McGill (2005) and Clayton Pyne (2006), and subsequently passed through the hands of a number of collectors.

PE 038’s last main game race at Sandown in 2002. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

Xiberras has owned the car since 2019 but has rarely driven it due to his other commitments, which include his Supercars team, running PremiAir Hire and racing Top Fuel drag cars.

His last time behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar came at the 2021 Phillip Island Classic, where he drove his ex-Garry Rogers Motorsport VT.

Xiberras originally entered that GRM Commodore for the Sydney Classic but has opted instead for the Perkins car, which is presented in its 2001 colours.

“It’s something I’d really like to do more of. I’m not getting any younger,” Xiberras told V8 Sleuth of driving his V8 Supercars on track.

“This event came up and I just said, ‘stuff it’ and entered. It doesn’t conflict with drag racing or circuit racing, and it’s five minutes down the road, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Xiberras celebrates drag racing success earlier this year. Pic: Supplied

While Xiberras is comfortable piloting his Top Fuel drag cars down the quarter mile at over 500km/h, he admits he’s out of his comfort zone aboard a Supercar.

“It’s a whole new skill set which I just don’t have. I’m literally no good at it,” he said.

“There’s so much to learn, but I love learning, asking questions, ‘what did you do here, why are you so quick through that corner?’. It’s just learning those little techniques.

“I go drag racing to be competitive, whereas the circuit racing I go to have fun, enjoy time with good mates and steer these old cars that as a kid I’d watch on TV. That’s pretty cool.”

Xiberras has done various track days over the years – and even drove a Hyundai Excel at Challenge Bathurst last November – but has never competed in an actual circuit race.

Xiberras aboard his Top Fuel drag car. Pic: Supplied

Although that’s something he’d like to change in the future, he’s realistic about his skillset and currently happy to stick with the Super Sprint sessions run by the 5-Litre Touring Car category.

“People say ‘why don’t you run in Super3 or Super2?’, but I’m just not up to that pace,” he said matter-of-factly.

“For now, I just love to do circuit days like this where it’s not a full-on race, but one day I’d love to get more into the old heritage racing.

“I’ve got an old (ex-Graeme Crosby) VK I’d love to race, but I don’t want to make a fool of myself, and I don’t want to make mistakes and damage someone else’s pride and joy, or my own.

“There’s no rush, there’s no set time frame, it’s just a matter of get out there, enjoy it and have some fun.”

Xiberras gave a host of drivers laps in his current ZB Commodore Supercars at Queensland Raceway last week as PremiAir Racing assesses its options for Bathurst 1000 co-drivers.

PremiAir Racing’s Commodores do battle at Winton. Pic: Supplied

Although admitting he’s curious about how the current cars handle, he’s keeping clear of his Triple Eight-built ZB Commodores for now.

“The ZBs are a tool, not a toy right now. I stay out of it and let the boys who should be driving them drive them,” he said.

“The latest model I’ve ever driven is a H-pattern, I’ve never driven a sequential car. But down the track I’m sure I can have a steer (of the ZBs). I’m definitely keen to try it.”

There are eight entries for the 5-Litre Touring Car class this weekend, four of them Perkins Engineering-built Commodores.

Others are Jamie McDonald’s ex-Bob Pearson Pro-Duct VP and the VS models run by George Appleby (ex-Mike Imrie) and Neil Schembri (ex-Truckie Parsons).

Completing the entry are Chad Parrish (2003 CAT FPR BA Falcon), Jacob Khouri (2007 Orrcon FPR BF), Andrew O’Connell (2001 Bud Racing AU) and Peter Abood (2008 Paul Morris Commodore VE).

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