Clutch failure prompted De Silvestro charge

Simona De Silvestro pic: AJP Photography

Simona De Silvestro has explained how her drive to 12th position and best of the Altima quartet came after a clutch failure at the start of Race 11 at Barbagallo.

The Swiss driver put the Harvey Norman-backed Kelly Racing entry a season-best 17th on the grid but was 24th at the end of the standing lap before clawing back 12 positions over the remaining 49 laps, thanks largely to an early compulsory pit stop.

In the end, she was three positions up on next-best team-mate Rick Kelly and equalled her second best finish in a Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race, which she first recorded at the same circuit 12 months ago.

“The clutch failed at the start so it was pretty annoying and pretty miserable because I think everybody was already in Turn 1 when I was still sitting there, so not so good,” recounted De Silvestro.

“But then we kind of were in traffic and then decided to come in and it worked quite well, I was pushing quite hard on the few first laps (after the pit stop), so we made a big gap and then I was a bit nervous towards the end because we did a really, really long stint, but seemed to manage pretty well and that was okay.

“So that was pretty fun but definitely quite long out there on the tyres trying to manage it.”

Indeed, De Silvestro was the first to take her compulsory pit stop, at the end of Lap 10, while the next drivers into the lane came four laps later, allowing her to make time by circulting in clean air.

“It was weird because I was in a pack and I thought that some people would come out right in front of me but I had really four or five laps where I was all by myself and could do really good lap times so I think that made us jump it,” she observed.

“But the only thing is tomorrow people have seen that (and may emulate it) so it’s a bit frustrating, that side.

“But maybe the crappy start helped prompt us to do that a bit more, so pretty happy with the result for sure.”

Another noteworthy element of De Silvestro’s drive was how she managed to hold position in her latter stint despite being on significantly older tyres than most in the field.

While resurfacing of Barbagallo Wanneroo Raceway was completed in January, significantly dulling the circuit’s abrasive nature for at least the time being, there were noticeable examples of tyre degradation including the case of Jamie Whincup.

De Silvestro, however, maintained 12th position for the 20 laps after the pit stop cycle completed.

“I’m trying to learn these things and I feel like this year I’ve been able to manage the tyres much better than in the past so that’s really good for me,” explained the 30-year-old.

“Now just need to nail it in qualifying and then we should be where we should be, where I’ve wanted to be.”

De Silvestro remains 20th in the championship.

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