Motorsport: Supergirls team back for Bathurst

Simona De Silvestro drives the Harvey Norman Supergirls Ford during the Bathurst 1000. Photo / Getty Images
Simona De Silvestro drives the Harvey Norman Supergirls Ford during the Bathurst 1000. Photo / Getty Images

The Harvey Norman Supergirls team will be back for its second tilt at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

Dunlop Series racer Renee Gracie and accomplished open-wheel star Simona de Silvestro will once again pair up, although the team running their entry is yet to be confirmed.

Gracie and de Silvestro raced to 21st place in their Bathurst debuts last year, their run cruelled early when the former slid off on a trail of oil and into the wall in the first hour of the race.

It was the only major blip in what had been a solid weekend that marked both's first race in a new generation Supercar at Mount Panorama.

Gracie expects the benefit of a year's experience will make pace easier to come by second time around.

"Simona and I went leaps and bounds last year," she said at this year's Bathurst 1000 launch at Sydney's Luna Park.

"Every time we went out on track we got better and better.

"I think with the same equipment again this year our improvement's going to be massive over what we achieved last year. So, I think, just as long as we're improving we're going to be doing well."

Though accomplished in many forms of motorsport around the world, the learning curve was just as steep for de Silvestro at Bathurst last year.

"I'd heard so many great things about the place, and to actually get the first lap out there and get on top of the hill, it really surprised me how down it went!" she said.

"And it was quite challenging with the car also, I'd never really driven a closed car. So everything was really new and especially going out there in my first time in a car like that, it was quite difficult.

"I'm looking forward to coming back because once I've had a race under your belt, learn a little bit more about how the racing also is, you want to come back quicker.

"I'm really looking forward to this year and hopefully we'll have a pretty good result in the end."

The Swiss racer gently deflected inquiries about a potential fulltime drive in the 2017 Supercars Championship, with the sport offering a $1 million sponsorship carrot to any team that takes on a female racer.

"I think for me I've had a tough year in Formula E and I'm definitely looking at all the options that are out there," de Silvestro said.

"I really enjoyed Bathurst last year and it's definitely something to look at. The support of Harvey Norman also and the female aspect is quite important.

"Right now there is no decisions made. But the racing is a lot of fun here and as a racecar driver that's what you look for."

The pair's program will follow a similar structure to last year, with Gracie and de Silvestro expected to get a two-day test before heading to Mount Panorama in October, where Gracie will again combine Dunlop Series commitments with the Bathurst 1000.

- news.com.au

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