What started out as a speedy weekend at Tailem Bend turned into a weekend to forget for Andre Heimgartner who now turns his attention towards the PIRTEK Enduro Cup where he was a real surprise package in 2017.
Across Friday’s two practice sessions at the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend at the weekend, the 23-year-old was 10th fastest in the #7 Plus Fitness Racing Nissan Motorsport Altima despite stray sand brought onto the track by another competitor impeding what would have been his fastest lap.
Tweaks were made ahead of qualifying for Saturday, however day two of the event would see the Melbourne-based Kiwi unable to capitalise on his strong car pace. He would qualify 18th before making up several positions in the opening laps of the 120km race, only to have a number of incidents drop him back down the order to finish 19th.
Sunday held the promise of greater results, starting with a qualifying position of 11th. However, it wasn’t to be for Heimgartner with heavy damage leading to a race retirement for the #7.
“Our weekend started off promising and we had some really promising car speed. Learning the track wasn’t too challenging but when searching for those little areas to progress you can easily get caught out so that was a challenge on Friday but we were happy with a top ten result,” Heimgartner explained.
“On Saturday we felt like we were well positioned to advance and I was very keen to race on the track for the first time. We made some good spots in the early laps but then it went the other way for us and we had to settle for 19th.
“Qualifying went better on Sunday and we were happy to advance further up the grid and start from 11th. We had a promising start, but unfortunately I made a mistake which lead to us having to retire – I was behind a tight group and we all entered pit lane at the same time. I misjudged the distance to the car in-front and made contact. It was my mistake and I am sorry to Garth Tander for the incident.
“My focus now is on the enduros – we had a good run last year and it will be nice to reset and try and put together a good campaign for all three events, starting with the Sandown 500 next month.”
Heimgartner and Nissan Motorsport will next be on-track with the Virgin Australia Supercars for the Rabble.Club Sandown 500 at Sandown Raceway across September 14-16, 2018.