Tributes have been paid to Mark Skaife after the most successful driver in the history of the V8 Supercar Championship announced he is to retire from full-time competition at the end of the season.
The Toll HRT driver will bring his career to an end following the final round of the year at Oran Park, and will retire with 40 round wins, five drivers' titles and five wins at Bathurst under his belt.
It is a record that eclipses anyone else in the history of the sport, and V8 Supercars Australia Tony Cochrane said he was a figure who would be sorely missed by the sport.
"Mark is one of the country's most remarkable, respected and admired sports people of the last two decades," he said. "There are very, very few sports people with either his record or his public recognition.
"All of our modern day drivers can take a lesson from Mark in his professionalism, dedication to the sport and the way he handles an intense public spotlight. He has been an enormous ambassador for V8 supercars and is an icon top all young people in the way he handles himself and his responsibilities."
Cochrane also paid tribute to Skaife for his record and said it was the right time for him to announce his retirement.
"Mark has made the decision to leave at the top of his game with a round victory this year at the prestigious L&H Phillip Island 500 and we look forward to Mark having a continued career within the V8 Supercar family," he said. "This has been stellar career of magnificent proportions – five-time V8 Supercar Champion, five-time Bathurst winner and a record 40 round victories – which is unmatched in Australian motorsport history at the very highest level.
"This is a sad day for Australian sport, V8 Supercars Australia and motorsport but a happy one in that Mark can be celebrated the way he should be. Mark's record speaks for itself he is without doubt one of the greatest touring car drivers in the world."
Skaife was also praised by Craig Wilson, the CEO of Walkinshaw Racing – the outfit behind the Toll HRT team – and by Tom Walkinshaw himself for his illustrious career.
"Mark has had an enormous impact on the development of the V8 Supercar series and will be remembered for his contribution to the sport and the auto industry in this country for many years to come," Wilson said. "We wish him well for the future and pay tribute to his record of achievement."
"If he applies himself to his career, post motor racing, with the same passion and determination that he has shown so far, I am sure that he will continue to have great success," Walkinshaw added. "I personally thank Mark for everything he has contributed to the Holden Racing Team."