"Up and down" weekend for De Silvestro in Darwin
Simona De Silvestro brings home a P19 and a P20 in two races heavily affected by contacts in the early laps.
Four weeks after the Winton round, Supercars Champioship was back on track on Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin.
Simona De Silvestro enjoyed a strong start of the weekend, claiming sixth place in the first practice session, but the enthusiasm was cut short in the second session:
“We did quite well in practice one finishing sixth, but the difference between practice one and practice two was everyone put their good tyres on and showed their true pace and we’re a fair way off that.” - commented the Swiss lady.
The team had to find some more speed in most track sectors thus tried to make some changes overnight.
In the first race, De Silvestro took off from 22nd on the grid and got caught in a contact early in the race: as Heimgartner and Winterbottom made contact at the final corner of the second lap, a nine-car pack went towards turn one too close to each other and Simona hit Hazelwood.
“I had a bit of a crack early on in the race unfortunately I was too close to the car in front and just had no air on the front splitter and locked up when I hit the brakes and hit Hazelwood.” - said De Silvestro. “It was quite frustrating because a lot of cars were tangling up in front of us so we could have made up a lot of places but yeah, that accident put us on the back foot a little”.
The team then opted to keep the Nissan Altima #78 on track for as long as possible, extending her pit window until lap 30. De Silvestro pitted from second position and rejoined P19.
Simona showed really positive tyre management skills and had good speed at times; with fresh tyres she chased Hazelwood and passed him for 17th place on lap 34.
An intense battle for 3rd between Reynolds and Waters entertained the audience, but it was McLaughlin to take victory. De Silvestro crossed the line in 16th, merely 0.4 seconds off Pither, but was subsequently demoted to P19 after the Stewards handed her a 15-second time penalty for the lap 3 incident.
A frustrating result to an otherwise promising race pace: “The race was ok but we really struggled with straight-line speed so we need to look into it and see what happens tomorrow.” - commented Simona after the Saturday round.
The 30 year-old Swiss driver started from P18 after an ancouraging second qualifying performance, but again was influenced again by an early accident in the second race. The #78 Harvey Norman Altima was squeezed between Nick Percat and Garry Jacobson, with De Silvestro left with no chances to avoid the contact.
“Unfortunately not the best race for us, early on Percat hit me from behind and sent me into Garry and put him off the track and that was really it I guess. Pretty disappointing.” - she said.
“From there we tried a few things with strategy to try and pick up the pace and yeah, it wasn’t really where we wanted to finish.”
The former IndyCar and F1 test driver took the chequered flag in 20th position, with McLaughlin also conquering the second weekend's race from David Reynolds and Fabian Coulthard, who had made a brilliant start but had to give up the second position on the outside of turn one.
De Silvestro sits 20th on the points table, with Supercars Championship now approaching its half-way point.
In Simona's words:
“Darwin was a bit up and down, some positive on Sunday in qualy where we had good promise but I didn't put the lap together. Looking forward to Townsville!”
Ph credits: Kelly Racing / Andy Pearson