After impressing at the pointy end for the majority of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, disaster heartbreakingly struck not once, but twice for Andre Heimgartner in the closing stages of the race.
The 24-year old Melbourne based Kiwi was sharing the #7 Plus Fitness Nissan Altima for Kelly Racing with Bryce Fullwood at the weekend.
After fantastic performances by both drivers across the first three-quarters of the race, Heimgartner was fourth on the road and in-sight of third position.
It was then on lap 146 that the first disaster struck – Heimgartner was inadvertently called to the pits needlessly when the radio channel was opened late.
“My engineer was trying to tell me ‘Winterbottom is going to pit now’ but the channel was opened late and I only heard ‘pit now’. I wasn’t supposed to pit. We were fuelled to the end and if that hadn’t happened, we should have ended up on the podium,” Heimgartner lamented after the race.
He rejoined in 12th position full of fervour and by the time the final laps were underway was charging to be back up to eighth position and looking likely to salvage a top-five finish.
It was then however that disaster struck a second time, with the #7 Nissan coming into heavy and race-ending contact with the wall at what is known as Forrest’s Elbow with three laps remaining in the race.
“It has been absolutely gutting,” Heimgartner said.
“We had a really strong day out there. Bryce started from 13th and we were into the top ten by lap 23. From there we worked our way up to fourth and in touch of the top three for the final quarter of the race.
“With the situation how it was for the cars in front of me, we should have finished on the podium. But as it happened, we ended up in the pits and then when it looked like I could possibly salvage a top five, I ended up in the wall.
“Heartbreaking is the only way to describe it. Everyone puts their heart and soul into this event and I can’t thank everyone enough for their support – we were in the frame for a really great result and this is going to hurt for a while.”
Heimgartner will next be on-track with Kelly Racing and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship for the second round of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup, the Vodafone Gold Coast 600, across October 25-27.
For more on Andre Heimgartner, visit www.andreheimgartner.com