Racing legend and Inside Supercars panellist Mark Skaife has slammed his former team’s poor performance at Winton over the weekend.
The driver-turned-commentator who dominated Supercars in the early 2000s with Holden Racing Team called the weekend’s performance “unacceptable” after James Courtney and Garth Tander qualified up the back and failed to crack the top 10 at their home test track.
An avid footy fan, Skaife likened the Holden squad to the AFL’s biggest club Collingwood, given the Supercars team’s mainstream appeal.
Also supported by Holden, Collingwood has been under intense scrutiny this year after failing to live up to the high expectations placed on the once mighty club.
“I thought that when they (HRT) went from four cars to two cars (for 2016) that was a seriously positive thing – I reckon we all thought that was going to help them,” Skaife said on tonight’s episode of Inside Supercars.
“The reality is they are the Collingwood of the sport. This sport is better when they are going better – there is no doubt about that.
“So we all wish they were at the pointy end, we all wish from a Holden standpoint that they were genuinely competitive – but they’re not and it’s unacceptable.”
Skaife was shocked to hear Courtney say the team should skip racing at Winton next year, with the weekend’s results following a bad run in 2015 where Courtney took out two teammates.
“To even say that [about] a home test track – say, ‘let’s give this one a miss’, that just shows they’re nowhere,” Skaife said.
“But you’ve also got to remember … they are two of the very best drivers. They are seriously good car racing drivers, so for them to be where they are, the car is a dog.”
Shots of Courtney sitting on pit wall after Sunday’s qualifying showed the usually chirpy former champion dejected, which Skaife and fellow panellist and driver James Moffat thought was a telling sign.
“There’s no doubt with their pilots, that’s for sure,” Moffat said of the HRT drivers’ abilities.
“Garth would be feeling the same way. I think sometimes James is very good at hiding that but it’s obviously boiled over for him.”
He added that the team would be doing all it could to improve its position: “That won’t be a lack of trying from anybody down there, they would be doing absolutely 110 per cent like every other team in pit lane…
"I’m sure they’ll bounce back – like we spoke about, their drivers are first class, there’s no issue there. They will bounce back – the sport needs HRT to be strong.”