Open Wheel Road Racing — 17 April 2011

Courtesy of

By Mike Brudenell

Look for Simona de Silvestro to strut her stuff at the beach Sunday.

That’s Long Beach, Calif., where de Silvestro should again prove she’s the real deal in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

This season, de Silvestro, who is with HVM Racing, has not only held her own against fellow female racer Danica Patrick, she has gone wheel-to-wheel with series veterans Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves.

Kanaan, perhaps the toughest driver in IndyCar, wiped his brow in St. Petersburg, Fla., and praised de Silvestro for her pluck after her car just about gnawed off the rear end of his Dallara/Honda during the race.

The 22-year-old from Switzerland finished fourth on the streets at St. Pete and ninth on the road course at Barber Motorsports Park (Ala.). In contrast, Patrick, who drives for Andretti Autosport, was 12th at St. Petersburg and 17th at Barber — and she has many more years of experience in the series.

Granted, Patrick — 16th in the points standings — is more comfortable on ovals and is expected to pick up the speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, but de Silvestro has been nothing short of amazing. She’s fifth in series points.

Last year at a media day during Indy 500 race week, de Silvestro sat alone at a table while reporters and TV crews swamped Castroneves, Patrick, Dario Franchitti and Kanaan. It was a ripe opportunity for me to chat with her.

What I discovered was a racer — pure and simple. She was extremely polite, understated and deeply motivated.

In her first start in that Indy 500, de Silvestro placed 14th and was named rookie of the year.

In 2009, she recorded four poles and four wins in the hotly contested Atlantic Series, which she entered in 2007 after competing earlier in the Formula Renault Italy (2005) and Formula BMW USA (2006) series.

And a top-10 finish in Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach would give de Silvestro a solid performance on a demanding circuit.

My bet is she gets the drop on the Go Daddy Girl at the very least.

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