Girl Power

An all-female combination of IndyCar and Formula E driver Simona De Silvestro and Australian driver Renee Gracie will compete in this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

Swiss-born De Silvestro is considered one of the world’s leading female drivers, following in the footsteps of racing sensation Danica Patrick on the US scene. Gracie is the only woman competing in the Australian V8 Supercars Dunlop Series.

De Silvestro, known as the `Iron Maiden’, and Gracie, known as the ‘Devil Princess’, will form the first all-female pairing to race at Bathurst since Melinda Price and Kerryn Brewer in 1998.

V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton and NSW Premier Mike Baird made the announcement in Sydney as they launched the three upcoming NSW V8 Supercars events, beginning with this weekend’s Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint.

Warburton said V8 Supercars were delighted to secure two leading female drivers to one of Australia’s biggest sporting events for the next two years.

“The exciting all-female combination of Simona and Renee will receive worldwide attention and add even more interest to this iconic event," he said.

“Bathurst is one of the world’s top five motor races, sitting comfortably alongside Le Mans, Monaco and the Indy 500 and this is one of the most significant announcements in the history of the event."

Baird welcomed the announcement and looked forward to more great sporting events for the people of NSW.

“These three V8 Supercars events generate some $100 million into the NSW economy and are huge events for New South Wales," Baird said.

“In 2014 they attracted 360,000 fans, including more than 195,000 fans who poured through the gates at Mount Panorama, the second highest crowd in the history of the race.

“We can’t wait to see more fans from right around Australia flock to NSW for the `Great Race’ and other motor racing events in the coming months."

De Silvestro, 26, races in the American IndyCar Series for the world famous Andretti Autosport outfit, having been a part of the Swiss Sauber F1 squad last year. She recently announced she would contest the 2015/16 FIA Formula E Championship.

De Silvestro finished second in the Grand Prix of Houston in 2013 joining Patrick and Sarah Fisher as the only women in IndyCar history to record a podium finish.

“The Bathurst 1000 race was actually the first V8 Supercars race that I ever watched and it looked amazing," she said.

“The track looks great from what I have seen on TV. It looks really challenging and I can't wait to see it for real and to drive around it."

Gracie, 20, is a prodigious young talent in her first season in the V8 Supercars Dunlop Series having graduated from Porsche Carrera Cup. Gracie is coached and mentored by current Supercheap Auto Bathurst Champion Paul Morris.

“To be paired up with a high-profile international female like Simona, who I really look up to, is incredible," she said. “So to say I am excited would be a complete understatement."

De Silvestro and Gracie are one of two wild card entries for this year’s event along with Newcastle brothers Aaren and Drew Russell.

Prodrive Racing Australia will provide the racing services to the De Silvestro and Gracie entry.

Prodrive Racing Australia has won the last two Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 classics, with Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards in 2013 followed by Chaz Mostert and Morris in last year’s memorable finish.

The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 this year also continues the bicentenary celebrations of the city that has hosted the country’s ‘Great Race’ for more than 50 years.

The Mayor of Bathurst Cr Gary Rush said: “2015 is Bathurst’s bicentenary year, and the year has been about remembering our past, but also setting new traditions for the future.

“This announcement does just that, and will add interest to what is already a major sporting event for NSW and the nation, held at Australia’s premier motor racing precinct, Mount Panorama."

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