Simona DeSilvestro qualified with by far the best speed of "Team Lotus". [Russ Lake Photo]
Simona de Silverstro Shows Her Stuff On Bump Day At Indy
by John Atlas
SPEEDWAY, IN: Swiss Miss Simona de Silvestro, the 2010 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, overcame the frustration of being saddled with an uncompetitive Lotus powerplant, turning in another memorable qualifying performance at the the old Brickyard.
In her two previous Speedway appearances, Simona distinguished herself as a true racer. Running for the single car HVM team, the Swiss leadfoot ran strongly among the leaders all day, recording a 14th place finish to lead all the other rookies home. Beyond that; more than a few long-time observers of the sport saw a spark of something special in the young driver. Finally, it seemed, a female racer had appeared at Indy with the "right stuff" to run up front as an equal with the boys (no disrespect to Danica, Sarah, Lynn, Pippa or Janet intended!)
Last year, it became even more obvious that de Silvestro truly had "the eye of the tiger". A flaming pre-race crash, triggered by a mechanical failure, put her on her head, with burns to her hands that threatened to sideline her for the year. However, when time trials for the 2011 Race concluded, a heavily bandaged Simona had demonstrated her true grit by safely qualifying for her second 500 without further drama. "The weaker sex", indeed!
Sticking with the HVM single car operation for 2012, it appeared that Simona could reasonably hope for equal equipment in which to showcase her talent, since everyone would be starting with new, unknown cars and engines.
At least in theory.
By the time Bump Day rolled around, all but two of the contracted Lotus teams had bailed, leaving only a pair of unlucky drivers to cope with the huge horsepower disadvantage. Sadly, Simona was in the cockpit of one of them. And, although she qualified with by far the best speed of "Team Lotus", de Silvestro finds herself in the middle of the last row with a qualifying speed fully twelve MPH slower than the pole speed of 226.481 MPH recorded by Ryan Briscoe's Chevy-powered Penske entry.
One of the things that has always set auto racing apart from most other sports is that, without proper equipment, the world's greatest race driver will never be able to show his/her talent. These days, if the race car is a slug, pure driving talent is never enough to overcome the car's shortcomings. This Sunday, through an unfortunate set of circumstances, Simona de Silvestro finds herself in the hopeless position of being relegated to the position of being a backmarker.
One thing is certain; when the green flag drops on Race Day, Simona will be wide open, running the Nuclear HVM-Lotus as fast as it will go for as long as it will go. Even if she gets lapped a dozen times, the car is going to get the ride of it's life.
No matter what the outcome of the 2012 Indianapolis 500, don't forget about Simona de Silvestro, because she's a winner. You can see it.
You can see it in her eyes.