The Harvey Norman Supergirls are continuing to adapt to the Nissan Altima Supercar after their first run at Mount Panorama today.
The pair faces a daunting task lining up against the regular drivers in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at the toughest track on the calendar, but both Simona De Silvestro and Renee Gracie were pleased with their progress throughout day one.
They sat at the back of the field during practice, with De Silvestro 3.8 seconds off fastest driver Jamie Whincup, while Gracie 4.5sec behind Whincup’s co-driver Paul Dumbrell.
It’s all about improving across the weekend – though De Silvestro admitted next year’s move to race full-time has added pressure to perform at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
“It’s great to be back, you know I really enjoyed driving here last year … this year there is a bit more pressure because I really need to get my head around and understanding how to drive these cars,” De Silvestro said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it so far; the team has done an incredible job, just feeling pretty comfortable in the car right away, but now I have to really start looking at the smaller things to go fast.
“So far I’m going okay and it’s just a great event to be a part of. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
The ladies switch to a Nissan Altima in 2016 after racing a Prodrive Ford Falcon FG X last year.
While both drivers described the car as very different, returning to the event means it’s not all new for De Silvestro.
“I think that helps quite a bit because last year I came here and hadn’t even done one lap around here,” De Silvestro said.
“Just knowing how the track is, I could prepare a little bit better I raced here last year.
“For sure the car is a little bit different to drive, I’m happy that it is quicker but there is still a huge gap to the fast ones, so sometimes that’s a bit frustrating as a driver.
“But I want to get better so every time I get in the car that is the focus, so I’m really starting to pick those things to get quicker at.”
Gracie spent an hour and a half behind the wheel and is sitting out of the Dunlop Series this weekend.
“It has been a bit of a challenge adjusting to a new car on the track,” Gracie said.
“I’ve quickly realised how hard it is to drive three different cars in two years at this Mountain, it’s pretty challenging.
“The first session was definitely about getting comfortable, which I was lacking first up.
“Simona did well in her first session, and she felt good at the end, and then in the final session we split the driving.
“Simona went out on green tyres at the end there, I didn’t, but she went quite quick, which is good.
“So I’m pretty confident, I think Simona is pretty confident in the car too, and we’re moving in the same direction with car setup. I think tomorrow will be a good day.”
There’s a final hour-long practice session for all drivers, and one exclusively for co-drivers before the afternoon qualifying session.