Simona de Silvestro has called time on her Supercars sojourn after being unable to secure a competitive race seat for the 2020 season.
The Swiss driver made history by becoming the series’ first full-time female racing driver when she signed a three-year deal with Nissan Motorsport in 2017, following two promising wildcard outings at the 2015 and 2016 Bathurst 1000 endurance races.
Her departure from what is now Kelly Racing has been an open secret for several months, with the team confirming her exit when it announced it was downsizing to two cars next year. While her third year with the team has seen her achieve her best results with two top-ten finishes, her one-lap speed remains a persistent weakness.
She was linked to a switch to Triple Eight Race Engineering in the off-season and more recently with a move to Prodive Racing, but her new appointment as a test and development driver for Porsche’s Formula E program has proved too big a temptation.
“No, I won’t be [on the grid next year],” she told the Supercars Trackside TV programme in the lead-up to this weekend’s Sandown 500. “On one side, yes, it’s a bit unfortunate because I feel like we haven’t ticked all the boxes here in Australia.
“But having the opportunity with Porsche coming around like this is a really big deal for me and so far I feel like I’ve been close but never where I need to be and I think that with this opportunity with them, I think I can finally achieve what I’ve always dreamt of and fighting for a championship and winning races.
“Through [sponsor] Harvey Norman, through [CEO] Katie Page, this opportunity [was] created that I came here to race for three years, and here I am signing with Porsche.
“So if she wouldn’t have been involved, or giving me this chance, maybe all of this wouldn’t have happened.”
Her increasing frustrations with being given second-string equipment and a rotation of engineers was also apparent.
“You need a team to feel the same, and giving you the chances that you need,” she added. “I feel like we haven’t got that right, really, in the three years that we were here.”
While she has called time on her full-time Supercars career for now, the 31-year-old is hopeful of getting a call-up for co-driver opportunities at next year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup rounds where she would surely be hot property.
“The racing here is so good and I think you can’t compare it to anything else, and to be honest,” she added. “I’m really going to miss it, because I really enjoy the cars, they’re really fun to drive, the competition is so fierce out there so it’s really cool, and that’s really what I love about it.
“So if I really get something together to come as an enduros, it’d be awesome.”
Images via Kelly Racing