Heimgartner finds form in Townsville
Andre Heimgartner has emerged relatively unscathed from a gruelling NTI Townsville 500 event that saw Kelly Grove Racing recapture some of its speed. The Kiwi left the previous Darwin round scratching his head with his NED Whisky Mustang banging at the rear of the field for most of the weekend. His teammate David Reynolds also struggled leaving the team somewhat perplexed. However, that was all put behind them when the cars rolled out on the Friday of the event in Townsville with encouraging pace. The #7 Mustang only just missed the Top 10 Shootout on the Saturday, qualifying in 11th for Race 15 of the season. It gave the 26-year-old hope for the first of two 250 kilometre races. “The car was much better straight out of the truck – so I immediately knew we had a chance to compose ourselves and gather more points,” said Heimgartner.
The Saturday race burst into life in sunny and warm conditions. The first stint didn’t go to plan, forcing the crew to change the rear set up after the first stop. “We went the wrong way with the set up for the start of the race, so at the first stop we made changes and I spent the rest of the day catching everyone – which I was able to do,” Heimgartner said.
“We came home 12th which was a good outcome considering the first stint was a real struggle!”. Overnight the team tried a few changes to the set up. “We learnt a lot from the Saturday race so overnight we tried a few changes for Sunday’s qualification. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get the car to hook up the way I needed it to, so we started the Sunday race from 18th”. The final race of the weekend proved to be a highlight, with various strategies throughout the field resulting in epic battles. In particular Heimgartner found himself sparring with James Courtney at the start and end of the race.
“My old mate James and I ended up having yet another battle. Before the end of Lap 1, I’d already had battle damage on the front left guard which I thought would end my day – but I was able to continue racing without incident. Then, at the end of the race I was in a battle pack with Bryce Fullwood and James Courtney yet again – and I put on a big move which got me closer to the top 10 – then James bustled his way through and took me back,” laughed Heimgartner. Another 12th place finish wasn’t exactly what Heimgartner or his team were hoping for, but it did steady his Championship standing and arrest an otherwise disappointing Darwin round. “Overall I’m happy to know we’ve pulled ourselves out of our hole at Darwin and although I didn’t achieve the top 10 it steadied our ship a little. We can now reset and prepare for next weekend,” said the 26-year-old. The Repco Supercars Championship will stay in Townsville this week and race again for a second week in a row.