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When Skaife won Adelaide 500 from 38th

ADELAIDE is the home of the biggest come-from-behind victory in ATCC/Supercars Championship history.

It was a wet and wild Sunday in 2000 when Mark Skaife charged to victory from 38th on the grid.

The early days of using the 3.22km Adelaide Parklands circuit hadn’t been kind to Skaife, crashing in ’99 after losing feeling in his right leg and being forced to drive using only his left foot, and then failing to finish the first leg in 2000 due to an engine issue.

A “cranky” Skaife clearly turned that misfortune into motivation the very next day.

The Holden Racing Team driver made up 25 positions by Lap 14 of 78 and was all the way up to second, only behind teammate Craig Lowndes, just after the midway point.

Skaife hit the lead on Lap 63 when Lowndes retired from the race and didn’t look back – leading home Garry Rogers Motorsport duo Garth Tander and Jason Bargwanna by more than seven seconds, even after a late scare.

“I remember it like it was yesterday because it was obviously a pretty wild day,” Skaife, who is currently visiting Adelaide, told V8 Sleuth.

“We also got a drive-through penalty (for pitlane speeding) which didn’t help my cause.

“Our strategy around the event at that point was pretty good but because of the conditions and just how wild it was, I remember a couple of times thinking ‘geez, I was lucky to get away with a few of those moves and a few of those laps around there’.

“It was a pretty interesting day based on not only coming through the field but if you have a look at the strength of the field in that year, early 2000s the level of competition was excellent, there was a lot of very, very good drivers. It was one I got away with.

Skaife (middle) on the podium. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

“I was assisted a little bit late with Lowndes because from memory he broke an oil cooler. I remember it leaking oil pretty hard, so on wet days where you’re blazing around a place like that and then you’ve also got the mad oil trail that was going on, it was pretty exciting.

“And I had a little slip up, I think it was the second-last lap where I just parked the left-hand wheel on the painted line going up to Wakefield Street in the braking area for Turn 4 and I had to just release the brake and half go up the escape road and turn around and go back in.

“That was one of about 100 almost ‘in the fences’.”

Skaife also holds the mantle of winning from the second-lowest grid slot in championship history, having come from 30th in a reverse grid Oran Park race in 2006 (note: Lowndes’ 36th to first in the second leg of Adelaide 1999 does not count given that was the continuation of one race).

But it’s Skaife’s 2000 Adelaide win which he considers perhaps the best of his illustrious career.

“I’d probably put the Adelaide one slightly higher (than Oran Park) only because the gravity of the event,” he said.

The Adelaide 500 makes its return to the Repco Supercars Championship in a fortnight’s time, having been absent since February 2020.

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