Girls can crack the Mountain

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 09/10/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page believes the Supergirls will prove women can be as quick on the racetrack as men.

Page - who, with Harvey Norman, is a passionate supporter of women in sport - joined Swiss IndyCar driver Simona De Silvestro and local talent Renee Gracie trackside for the first day of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000yesterday.

Both drivers experienced Mount Panorama in a V8 Supercar for the first time over three 45-minute practice sessions, with Page proudly watching on in the garage as the ladies improved their times throughout the day.

"I'm just blown away," Page said.

"I've been watching these two girls -a 20-year old and a 27-year old taking on the best."

Page was keen to jump on-board and support the first all-female pairing at Bathurst since 1998 and help make a mark on V8 Supercars.

"I look at this sport and say - why have we only got two girls in this sport?" she said.

"Who said women can't drive as well as men - and of course we've got these two girls that are proving that they can."

The ladies have had measured expectations heading into the weekend and Page did not put pressure on for big results. While they have good equipment in the Prodrive Falcon FG X - prepared by the team that won the last two 1000s - year one of a two-year deal is to learn.

"This is obviously their first year, we have to be realistic - for Simona, she's never driven a car like this so she's getting behind this car and thinking what can I do here I need to be better.

"With Renee, at 20, she's very, very sure about what she can do but she's up against the best.

"So from Harvey Norman's perspective we're really so happy to be supporting these girls. We support a lot of girls and women in sport."

De Silvestro has been named as the primary driver of the car and had never even seen the Bathurst circuit until Wednesday.

While she was off the pace in her first run, she improved by the final session, 3.68 seconds behind fast man Fabian Coulthard with her 2min09.1675 and ahead of the second wild card entry.

Gracie's best time in the co-driver only session was a 2min11.5831, 4.37 seconds off Warren Luff, the quickest co-driver.

After so much talk, De Silvestro was happy to get behind the wheel and get an idea of where she falls in the field.

"It was great to finally get out there on track, especially because you get so much hype about it and so many people telling you what to do - so it's always nice to actually get in the car and feel it out for yourself," she said.

"The track is just amazing -I think every lap you're out there you want to do another one because it's a lot of fun.

"I'm getting used to the car and how it feels, so still a lot of progression out there in front of us, but I think we'll be ok."

While she admitted she was not "super happy" about her times, De Silvestro knows it will take time to come to grips with the circuit.

"I think it was ok ... for somebody who has literally done two days in a car like this. Coming here, with the toughest track, I think it's ok.

"I'm really happy to get back in the car [tomorrow], learn from the data and get back to it."

While they have had the doubters, there has also been plenty of support for the girls.

"There's been a lot of talk, but also a lot of positive talk, and at the end of the day we just have to get in the car and drive as fast as we can," De Silvestro said.

"Our lap times are getting there and when it counts during the race I think we'll be there - so we can be okay right now with how we're feeling."

There will be two further practice sessions today, ahead of qualifying this afternoon for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

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