Sport

All-female team Renee Gracie and Simona de Silvestro hit wall at Bathurst but return

They were considered "a million to one" to finish their first Bathurst 1000.

Sadly, the first all-female team to contest the epic enduro since 1998 probably would have taken those odds after finding the Mount Panorama wall on Sunday.

Flat out: Renee Gracie drives the #200 Harvey Norman Supergirls Falcon at Mount Panorama.
Flat out: Renee Gracie drives the #200 Harvey Norman Supergirls Falcon at Mount Panorama. Photo: Robert Cianflone

Action-packed race: Simona De Silvestro and Renee Gracie.
Action-packed race: Simona De Silvestro and Renee Gracie. Photo: Robert Cianflone

But before the cynics could say "I told you so", the wildcard entry were back on track well within their lap 55 deadline after somehow repairing their severely damaged Ford.

Applause erupted amid high fives throughout their garage after IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro finally got a chance to get behind the wheel with 108 laps left in the Great Race.

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The mood could not have been more different barely an hour earlier.

Renee Gracie fought back tears after sliding on fluid from David Wall's Volvo and slamming into the wall at Forrest's Elbow on the 15th circuit of the 161-lap Great Race.

Co-driver and former Sauber F1 test driver Simona de Silvestro had not even got a chance to get behind the wheel.

IndyCar driver De Silvestro could not hide her disappointment in the garage as Gracie reversed out of the wall and nursed her severely damaged Ford back to the pits.

Her wildcard entry team were confident of repairing the Ford and it returned to the track before the lap 55 deadline.

"There was bloody fluid on the road and I'm in the wall. I'm so sorry," Gracie told race engineer Paul Ceprnich on the team radio.

"I'm coming back to the pits now. The steering's stuffed."

The all-female team had arrived at Mount Panorama with plenty to prove after old school V8 great Dick Johnson claimed they were "a million to one" of finishing their first Bathurst 1000.

Gracie fired back with: "Dick Johnson hasn't finished heaps of races so he can't talk".

Then there was Ford star David Reynolds' ill-advised remark that earned a $25,000 fine from V8 Supercars.

It had all appeared to steel Gracie who led off impressively after starting the Great Race in the pits to avoid the early carnage.

"It's a bit disappointing," said Gracie who will return to Bathurst with de Silvestro next year.

"We were off to a great start, had a great strategy and I caught the guys pretty quickly.

"But unfortunately I was the first who caught the oil and found the wall.

"Hopefully we catch some laps later and can work on driver changes and be back next year."

At least they weren't the first confirmed DNF in the 26-strong field on Sunday.

Volvo's Wall was ruled out after 15 laps with mechanical dramas but not before dumping fluid on the track that brought Gracie undone.

In all, 31 women have contested the Bathurst 1000 with a best placing of sixth - Australia's Christine Gibson (1981) and France's Marie-Claude Beaumont (1975).

AAP 

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