SWISS racer Simona De Silvestro has confirmed her commitment to a long-term future in Supercars, saying she now feels she “belongs” in the series. The first full-time female driver in the Supercars era, De Silvestro is in the second year of her initial three-year deal to race in the category after a career racing overseas in IndyCars and Formula E.But the Nissan driver said she was determined to carve out her future career racing in Supercars as she strives to make her mark in the championship.“For sure it’s a long-term thing … I would not have moved down here to not do that,’’ De Silvestro said.“It’s a big call to come, especially being from Europe, Australia is quite far away, the cars are quite unique to drive and everybody here has grown up driving these type of cars.“It was kind of a big risk to do it and I wouldn’t have done it if it was not something I would not have considered as my career to stay here for a long time.“At the end of the day, racing is always dependant on so many things, it’s dependant on sponsorship and the team and stuff like that.“The thing is we need to be good and quick and get the results and hopefully we can keep going like this.’’There has been speculation linking De Silvestro to a move to the dominant Triple Eight team to step into the third car that will be vacated by Craig Lowndes when he steps away from full-time racing at the end of the year.
But she said she was contracted to the Nissan team that will lose its factory backing next year.“There is nothing to say really, it’s just rumours,’’ De Silvestro said.After her first foray into Supercars as a wildcard entry paired with Renee Gracie at Bathurst in 2015 and 2016, De Silvestro finished 24th in the championship standings in her first full-time season in Supercars last year. A pair of 13th-place finishes at Phillip Island were her best results.She now sits in 22nd place in the championship entering the first race of the endurance season at Sandown this weekend.De Silvestro admitted it had been a steep learning curve in the series as she adjusted to unknown circuits and a new car, but felt she had now earned her “stripes”.“I think when I came here last year it was the first time in the series, I had never raced these guys anywhere, so you have to kind of earn your stripes a little bit,’’ De Silvestro said.“But now I feel like I kind of belong. It doesn’t feel any different to any other racing series I have been in in the past.’’De Silvestro, who earned the nickname Iron Maiden in her racing days overseas, has managed a highest finish of 12th this season at the Perth SuperSprint at Barbagallo Raceway.She admitted her results had been frustrating so far this year and hoped the endurance season could help deliver more positive results.“Last year the pace was average but then we kind of got lucky sometimes and had an OK result,’’ said the 30-year-old, who will team with youngster Alex Rullo in the enduros.“Whereas this year, I’m really close to my teammates and sometimes in practices I’m the quickest Nissan … but then it never comes together through the weekend.“It’s not great and there’s a little bit of pressure on myself to finish the year strong because it has not been the best place at the moment.“Enduro season is always a bit different. I always feel a bit more relaxed in enduros because you are sharing the car, there is a lot of things happening and if your starting position isn’t that great, there is always something that can happen in the race.’’