Simona De Silvestro says a career-best finish in the Sunday leg of the Perth SuperSprint vindicates efforts to develop the Harvey Norman Nissan around her driving style.
In her second Supercars season, the Swiss finished 12th on Sunday at Barbagallo Raceway, one place higher than her previous best, achieved twice at Phillip Island just over 12 months ago.
It backed up a 15th on Saturday, which had to that point been her best result of the 2018 season.
De Silvestro has been towards the back of the pack for the bulk of her Supercars career, fighting to buck the trend of international drivers struggling in the series.
The challenge of transitioning from open-wheelers to the V8-powered touring cars has been made all the more difficult by Nissan Motorsport’s indifferent form over the last 18 months.
All four Altimas, however, have shown top 10 potential across the last four races, and De Silvestro says adjusting the car to suit her style has been key to her own progress.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, especially last year was really tough,” she said.
“Even the beginning of the season was not how we wanted it, but I’ve been working hard with my engineer Chris [Stuckey], trying to get the car more like I wanted it.
“I think finally the results are showing. The team was a bit sceptical in the beginning, but it’s starting to show that it’s the right direction for me.”
De Silvestro qualified 15th on Saturday – her best since Barbagallo last year – but could only manage 21st in today’s session.
On a three-stop strategy, she was 10th inside the last 10 laps, before being overtaken by Chaz Mostert and team-mate Rick Kelly, who had done four-stops and were on newer rubber.
“Strategy wise, it looks like what Rick did was quite quick, so maybe that would have been a little bit better,” she noted.
“But I think we recovered quite well from where we started. The car was really good though, so I'm really quite happy with that.”
The topsy-turvy nature of the Barbagallo races meant plenty of cars ended the race sporting cosmetic damage from minor scrapes, and the Harvey Norman Altima was no exception.
“It’s rough out there. It’s way rougher than any other series I’ve been in,” she said.
“But it’s quite a lot of fun, I really like the racing in Supercars, it’s really intense all race long. There’s definitely a bit of contact out there.”
De Silvestro sits 22nd in the points after 12 races, with fellow Nissan drivers Kelly 13th, Michael Caruso 17th and Andre Heimgartner – who was the top finishing Altima today with eighth – in 20th.