The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Why the all-female Bathurst 1000 entry matters

Swiss driver Simona de Silvestro has locked down a Supercars contract in 2017 - but how will she go? (AFP PHOTO / JOSE JORDAN)
Expert
19th August, 2015
6

An all-female driver line-up will tackle the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama this year for the first time since 1998.

Swiss IndyCar and Formula E driver Simona de Silvestro will join Aussie racer Renee Gracie in one of two wildcard entries joining the regular V8 Supercars grid for the Bathurst 1000 in October.

But while some have branded the entry as a marketing exercise, there’s more than just tokenism to the Gracie-De Silvestro combination.

De Silvestro races in IndyCar for Andretti Autosport outfit, building up an impressive resume in American open wheelers. She is one of just three women to claim a podium finish in IndyCar history, scoring a championship best of 13th in the standings in 2013.

She was also a part of the Sauber Formula One squad last year as a test driver, while recently announcing she will contest the 2015-16 FIA Formula E championship for Andretti Autosport.

While the Bathurst 1000 will mark her debut in touring cars, after competing in the top tier of North American open-wheel racing shows the Swiss has the poise to handle the pressure of top-line motorsport.

Gracie, meanwhile, is currently competing in her first full-time season in the second tier Development Series, after stepping up from the Carrera Cup last season.

The 20-year-old has been edging closer to the top 10 in the competitive series and has been receiving coaching from last season’s Bathurst-winning co-driver Paul Morris.

Both drivers face a taunting task at Mount Panorama. But they haven’t been plucked from obscurity and have the required experience do justify their places on the Bathurst 1000 grid.

Advertisement
Advertisement

With the current championship-leading Prodrive Racing Australia preparing their car and running the entry at the event, Gracie and De Silvestro will have the equipment necessary to get up to speed.

The Aussie and Swiss duo won’t be the first all-female entry to tackle the Bathurst 1000. In fact, they will be the 14th all-female driver pairing in the history of the race and first since 1998.

The inclusion of Gracie and De Silvestro is a huge boost to the Bathurst 1000, considering De Silvestro’s international pedigree and Gracie’s status as one to watch for the future.

While other sporting codes are desperately trying to increase female participation on and off the field, motorsport is in a unique position with men and women able to compete in the same series/events on equal footing.

The inclusion of the all-female crew will not only act as a marketing benefit for V8 Supercars’ showpiece event of the year, it will also showcase the unique equal opportunity for both sexes in motorsport.