'The Dude' backs Supergirls

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 24/09/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

International wild card entrant Simona de Silvestro is as prepared as possible for her V8 Supercar testing next week, after spending time in similar race cars on Tuesday and Wednesday.

De Silvestro, 26, and teammate Renee Gracie, 20, will both have their first steer of the Ford Falcon FG X they will take to Bathurst on Monday at Winton.

But in the meantime, the Harvey Norman Supergirls tested Gracie's Dunlop Series Supercar at Queensland Racewayyesterday, and de Silvestro had the 'V8 Experience' with Paul Morris at Norwell after arriving in Australia Tuesday morning.

Reigning Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner Morris acts as a mentor to Gracie and has taken the pair under his wing to give them every possible chance across the two years they are locked in to racing at Mount Panorama.

And after what he has seen so far, Morris believes they will go well at the October 8-11 event.

"I think they'll be fine," Morris said.

"They've got to run their race. Their goal is get through the race, finish it, and be in really good nick to come back next year, because it's a two-year deal.

"There's nowhere to hide in V8 Supercars at the moment - there's going to be a lot of fast guys around them. But Renee's got the pace to run along in the race and do a good job and what I've seen from Simona here today, she'll be equally up to the challenge as well.

"So the guys around them have just got to realise the girls are in a different race to what they are, have some respect and they'll give them some respect back, and we should have a good result."

For IndyCar racer de Silvestro it is a steep learning curve, given she is used to driving open wheelers. But Morris and Gracie felt she had taken everything in her stride and shown she has what it takes to adapt to the unique race cars.

"It's a race I've always wanted to do especially racing in America, everybody talked about that race," de Silvestro said.

"When I got the call to come and do it, it was very special.

"All my career I've been in open wheelers in IndyCar and things like that - for me as a driver it's a brand new challenge to drive one of these cars and so far I'm really enjoying it.

"I think every time I'm in the car it's going to be a lot of fun, a new challenge - an open wheel I know how to drive but this I've had to adapt a little bit [with] my driving style and I think it's going to be fun."

De Silvestro described her early experiences behind the wheel as "a lot of fun", though she is yet to steer the car she and Gracie will run at Bathurst.

"Coming in, I've never driven any type of closed car like this and I was imagining it'd be a little bit different - a little bit wobblier ... but actually it is pretty stiff, which surprised me.

"The grip of it was not too bad so I really enjoyed the laps I did ... it's going to beimportant to feel comfortable. I already feel comfortable, but when you want to to go really fast that's the hard part of it.

"Luckily I have Paul around me to help me out and when we get to Bathurst I think we should be ok."

Gracie knew de Silvestro would take to the cars quickly and described her teammate as a "sponge" taking in everything and applying the feedback to her driving.

"[She was] quite impressive - you can tell she is racing at a pretty high level in IndyCar and Formula E, you can tell she's quite professional and quite good at what she does," Gracie said.

The 20-year old reiterated that their goal for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 was just to make it through and gain experience for next year's assault.

"It's a massive challenge, but that's why we're doing it, for the challenge," Gracie said.

"You can't underestimate it, you've got to respect the Mountain, respect where we're going - it's going to be a humongous couple of days and learning and observing everything is going to be the main thing.

"Our main focus - just get to Sunday. If we get to Sunday, learn as much as we can, get as many laps as we can, I think we've achieved everything.

"I'm already stoked - no matter what happens at Bathurst, I'm so happy this has happened and I've met Simona."

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