#78 TEAM HARVEY NORMAN NISSAN ALTIMA
Swiss-born racer Simona De Silvestro becomes the first full-time female driver in the Supercars era, joining the grid with Nissan Motorsport this year.
De Silvestro has had two forays in a Supercar as a wild card ‘ Harvey Norman Supergirls’ entry, paired with young up-and-comerRenee Gracie. Their 14th place finish in 2016 impressed, with De Silvestro steering a Nissan for the first time last year before confirming she would return with the team.
The international racer is respected forher driving in Formula E and IndyCar – she contested the 15-16 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.
The Swiss racer is passionate about encouraging women in motorsport, whether it be behind the wheel or in the pit lane.
De Silvestro and Gracie’ s Bathurst 2015 wildcard was the first female pairing at Mount Panorama since Melinda Price and Kerryn Brewer in 1998. Her second entry the following year preceded the announcement of her full-time signing with Nissan Motorsport in 2017.
After engineering De Silvestro’ s wild card entry, and Todd Kelly at limited rounds last year, Blake Smith returns to the Nissan fold for 2017. Smith engineered Garth Tander at the Holden Racing Team from 2014 until mid-2016, when the team underwent a huge overhaul in search for results. Previously at TEKNO Autosports, Smith gained experience as chief designer as well as race engineer, having worked with Shane van Gisbergen in 2013, the current champ’ s first year with the team. Smith got his big break in Indycar, working with Gelles Racing and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing in the USA, prior to heading home – and to Stone Brothers Racing for two years. Smith left SBR for stints at Dick Johnson Racing (2010, and 2012), punctuated by a year at Paul Morris Motorsports in 2011.