Incoming Supercars driver Simona De Silvestro will use #78 on her Nissan Altima this year, a nod to her most successful number in IndyCar racing.
De Silvestro is often tagged as one of only three women to stand on the IndyCar podium, and her number from that time will come Down Under with her for the 2017 Supercars season.
The 28-year old racer will line up in a factory-backed Altima this year and is set to arrive in Melbourne next week to begin her first full-time Supercars campaign after high-profile wild card entries at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 for the past two years.
Last year she steered an Altima before signing with the team, switching from her debut beast, the Ford Falcon FG X. De Silvestro and young driver Renee Gracie finished 11th in 2016 at the ‘Great Race’, impressing after a difficult first year.
While there will be a lot of differences for her as she comes to grips with a Supercar in Australia, her lucky number will be one familiarity.
“Number 78 is the number I have had the most success with – so I kind of like that number,” De Silvestro said from Switzerland.
“I think everything is going to be (a challenge) in the first race. The heat, getting to know the car more; things like that. But I will prepare myself the best (I can) for it, take the first race as it comes and learn from it.”
There will be plenty of eyes on De Silvestro this year as she will be the first full-time female racer in this era of Supercars.
De Silvestro has been preparing herself physically at home, with the first race on the calendar – the Clipsal 500 Adelaide – traditionally a physically gruelling event.
“I have been training a lot in Switzerland, doing lots of altitude training as well. So I feel ready physically now.
“I will just need to put some heat training on top of that which I will be doing the whole month of February in Australia before the season starts.”
And when she’s not in the car, watch out for De Silvestro on the coast.
“I am looking forward to exploring Australia. I bought a Lonely Planet and hope to get to see many things. For sure the beaches are something that I’m keen to see, as we don't have those in Switzerland!”
The international racer contested the 2015-16 Formula E championship with Amlin Andretti, also having raced with Andretti in the 2015 IndyCar Championship.
In 2014 she was part of the Swiss Sauber F1 squad, after finishing second in the Grand Prix of Houston in 2013, joining Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher as the only women in IndyCar history to record a podium finish.
That was her third year in the category, but de Silvestro showed promise immediately in 2010, winning the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and Tony Renna Firestone Rising Star awards.