30 years on: Skaife, Richards and Godzilla attack the mountain

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 06/10/2021
  • By James Pavey, Main Pic by Autopics

Few all-round Bathurst performances have been as dominant as that of Nissan duo Mark Skaife and Jim Richards in 1991.

On October 6, 30 years ago, Skaife and Richards combined in a Nissan Skyline GT-R to win the Tooheys 1000.

It was the first win for Skaife and the fifth for Richards, who defeated his teammate to the 1991 Australian Touring Car Championship title.

Such was the dominance of the #1 GT-R, that Skaife and Richards won the race by one lap.

Gibson Nissans dominated in 1991 Pic: AN1 Images

After finishes of third and 18th together in 1989 and 1990, Skaife and Richards loomed as the pairing to beat at Mount Panorama in 1991.

The Gibson Nissans had gone to another level in 1991, with Richards and Skaife winning seven of the nine rounds between them. 

Six of those victories were one-two finishes.

Richards arrived in Bathurst as the 1991 ATCC champion, but the 24-year-old Skaife was entrusted qualifying duties.

A rampant Skaife broke Tony Longhurst's 1990 qualifying record by a full second, becoming the first driver to record a 'twelve'.

Skaife was on a mission over one lap Pic: AN1 Images

Skaife lowered the mark again with a 2:12.63s in the shootout. An ‘eleven’ wouldn’t be posted until 1994.

The #1 GT-R also recorded a Group A fastest-ever speed of 293 km/h on Conrod Straight.

With GIO Racing's Mark Gibbs qualifying second, Nissan had locked out the front row.

Skaife had claimed the Japanese marque’s third pole after George Fury (1984) and Gary Scott (1986).

Still, Nissan had never won the race - but Skaife and Richards put that to bed in record time.

The start of the 1991 race Pic: AN1 Images

The overall race time of 6h 19m 14.80s broke the 1984 record of 6h 23m 13.06s.

The 1991 time remained the race record for the 1000km race until it was broken in 2010 - coincidentally, by Skaife, who won with Craig Lowndes and Triple Eight.

The record was lowered again in 2013, and again in 2018 - by Lowndes and Steven Richards, Jim's son.

To date, only the 2018, 2020, 2013, 2010, 2012 and 2015 races have been quicker than 1991.

Skaife also recorded the fastest lap of the race, albeit achieving the feat while attempting to move the #2 car back up the order in the closing stages.

Richards celebrates his fifth Bathurst win Pic: AN1 Images

October 6 in 1991, however, was all about the #1 GT-R.

To date, just seven marques - Holden, Ford, Nissan, Jaguar, Morris, BMW and Volvo - have won the Great Race.

Only three - Holden, Ford and Nissan - have won it more than once.

To date, only nine drivers have done the Bathurst-championship double. Richards’ 1991 win made him the fourth to do so after Bob Jane, Peter Brock and Dick Johnson.

"To win my first Bathurst with a legend like Jim Richards in the Nissan GT-R was just fantastic,” Skaife reflected on the 25th anniversary of the 1991 race.

Richards and Skaife won again albeit controversially in 1992 Pic: AN1 Images

"It was a life-changing moment to win the biggest car race in this part of the world.

"The 1991 race was fantastic because we could press on all day.

"It was the fastest race in history at the time and it was just a faultless day by not only the team, but the way the car ran."

The Repco Bathurst 1000 will be held over six days from November 30.

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight on October 29.

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