Simona makes history with Supercar deal

Sister act: Co-drivers Simona De Silvestro and Renee Gracie at last year's Bathurst 1000. They'll be back on the grid this year in a Kelly brothers Nissan Altima  Picture: Getty Images

Sister act: Co-drivers Simona De Silvestro and Renee Gracie at last year's Bathurst 1000. They'll be back on the grid this year in a Kelly brothers Nissan Altima Picture: Getty Images

There will be a 27th car on the grid for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with Swiss driver Simona de Silvestro lining up for her second time in the great race with Australia’s Renee Gracie.

Last year, they competed in a Prodrive Racing Australia-prepared Falcon sponsored by Harvey Norman but this time round they will be in a Nissan Altima prepared by the Kelly brothers racing team and all eyes will be on Silvestro in particular.

Recently, the 28-year-old has been signed as the first woman to compete full-time in Supercars for three years from 2017, although at the time of writing no team or car supplier had been announced.

Supercar officials have said for some time they wanted to have a woman in the championship in the hope it would generate more female viewers and add a new perspective to the championship.

The deal was brokered by Supercars Australia and backed by the South Australian Government and Harvey Norman.

So who is this Simona de Silvestro they call the “Iron Maiden”.?

De Silvestro started racing in the Formula Renault 2.0 Italia series in 2005, competing in sixteen races to finish 20th for the year. She moved to the Formula BMW USA series the following year, competing in fourteen races and finishing fourth.

From there, Silvestro competed in open wheel categories up to the present, enjoying moderate success. Her best year was 2009 when she scored four wins in the Atlantic championship to finish third overall for the year.

Between 2010 and 2013 Silvestro competed in 66 races of the IZOD Indy Car series and achieved “Rookie of the Year” honours at the 2010 Indianapolis 500 by finishing 14th after qualifying in 22nd position.

In October 2013, Silvestro finished second in the first race at the Grand Prix of Houston to claim her first podium finish. joining Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher as the only women to score a podium finish in Indy Car history.

Silvestro missed the 2011 Sonoma Indy Car round because she was refused entry to the USA by a U.S. customs officer who was concerned by her frequent trips between countries and would not believe she was a professional race driver!

In 2014 Silvestro tested for the Sauber Formula One team as part of a yearlong program with the team but it came to nothing due to contractual difficulties.

In 2015 Silvestro drove for the Andretti Autosport team in the Verizon Indy Car series with a best placed finish of fourth in the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana before she moved to the Formula E championship for electric powered race cars.

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