De Silvestro announces Supercars exit

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 07/11/2019
  • By Connor O'Brien

Simona De Silvestro’s full-time Supercars career will come to an end later this month, the trailblazing Swiss driver has confirmed.

De Silvestro first entered the series as part of a ‘Supergirls’ branded wildcard entry at Bathurst in 2015 and ’16.

She then stepped up to become the first full-time female driver in the Supercars era in 2017, spending the past three seasons at Kelly Racing aboard a Harvey Norman-backed Nissan.

Uncertainty had surrounded her 2020 plans though, with Kelly Racing downsizing to two Mustangs.

De Silvestro also recently signed as a Porsche Formula E development driver, becoming the first female to ink a factory contract with the German marque.

The 31-year-old has now confirmed that she will not be around for a fourth full Supercars campaign and will instead move back to Switzerland next month.

“I have a great opportunity with Porsche and I’m going to have some racing plans announced in December… but I can’t say what it is yet,” she told Supercars.com.

“So for me it is just a really big opportunity and as a driver it’s always something you kind of work towards, to have a team and a brand hire you, so it’s pretty exciting times for me.”

De Silvestro, though, is determined to be back behind the wheel of a Supercar in a partial campaign as soon as next year.

“Hopefully it’s not the end,” she said.

“Hopefully I’ll be around maybe for the enduros next year or maybe a wildcard – I think that’s definitely something that is possible.”

The former IndyCar podium-getter admitted she felt “a little bit of pressure” as top results have continued to prove elusive in a struggling Altima.

De Silvestro sits 20th in the championship, having been 23rd last year and 24th in her rookie season.

“I’m not disappointed, definitely I feel the three years have been great,” she said.

“It has been really an awesome experience for me to race here and even though I feel like some boxes haven’t been ticked, that’s sometimes how racing is.

“You need to be in the right place and the right position, which I felt was maybe not so much the case this year especially.

“A bit frustrating but at the end of the day, everything happens for a reason and now I have this great opportunity with Porsche that has come around.

“For me it’s something that I need to take because that’s a really big chance for me and my career.

“Two events left here; I’m pretty pumped about those, especially Newcastle.

“It’s a place that I do really well at so hopefully we can really finish the year on a high and get some good results in the last two rounds.”

De Silvestro identified a number of highlights from her time in the category and was particularly grateful for the long-term support of Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page.

“First of all, I think how welcome I have felt coming here,” said De Silvestro.

“As a European, it’s definitely a big step in learning the cars and all that but the fans have been awesome.

“Everyone has embraced me with open arms, and just being part of Supercars, I think it is really special.

“Not many drivers have been able to say that they’ve been able to race here and do Bathurst and all that, so I feel pretty privileged in that sense.

“All this would never have happened if Harvey Norman didn’t open up this opportunity five years ago as a wildcard.

“So I’ve been really lucky to have their support in giving me this chance here and thanks to them as well, this opportunity with Porsche came around, because I’ve had the support from Katie in showing what I can do.

“Having her behind me, letting me race here, making that possible has been awesome.”

De Silvestro’s penultimate round as a full-timer is this weekend at the Penrite Oil Sandown 500, where she will again team up with teen co-driver Alex Rullo.

The Newcastle finale will then take place across November 22-24, before De Silvestro heads abroad.

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