Lessons learned from the fallout over David Reynolds’ infamous description of a women’s team have steeled Renee Gracie to make her own Bathurst 1000 statement this year.
For the second straight year, Gracie and Swiss star Simona De Silvestro will team up as a wildcard entry in the only all-female line-up at next weekend’s Great Race.
They are full of confidence after completing a two-day testing session on Wednesday at Winton Raceway in their new Nissan.
But Gracie’s preparation began almost 12 months ago in the aftermath of Reynolds’ sexist description of her team.
Gracie and De Silvestro in 2015 were the first all-female team to contest Bathurst in 17 years but their entry was overshadowed by fellow driver Reynolds dismissing them as “the Pussy Wagon”, earning a whopping $25,000 fine.
In the media frenzy that ensued, Gracie realised she could not continue juggling drives in both the second-tier Dunlop Series and Bathurst 1000 races like she did last year at Mount Panorama.
As a result, Gracie – ranked 16th in the Dunlop Series – has ditched her regular drive in the second-tier category at Mount Panorama to concentrate solely on her Bathurst 1000 tilt.
“Last year, it was quite hectic with media requests and then, after David Reynolds’ comment, there was a whole new level of attention overnight,” Gracie told Supercars media.
“I could not focus on what I needed to do which is crazy considering I was at one of the world’s trickiest tracks.
“By dropping the Dunlop drive (at Bathurst), I can now concentrate on what I need to do with no distractions.
“I would love to race both but I have to look at the bigger picture.”
De Silvestro will partner Gracie at Bathurst before becoming the first full-time female Supercars driver in 2017, starting a three-year deal.
Gracie backed the former IndyCar driver to excel next year – after a tough initiation.
“She is in for a bit of a shock on our street circuits like Adelaide,” she said.
“At Bathurst, there is room for error.
“At Adelaide (first round), there is no buffer, no sand traps, just concrete walls.
“There will need to be a massive adjustment but she is the right person for the job.”
Gracie and De Silvestro finished 21st in a Ford at the 2015 Bathurst 1000.
Gracie hoped their Bathurst result would help set up De Silvestro for Supercars success from 2017 and beyond.
“I hope she does well. It would mean a lot not just for motorsport but for women in general,” she said.
“The more women do what people say they can’t, the better – it’s empowering.
“She is flying the flag, leading the way for women.”