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Thursday, Dec 7 08:00pm
AUTHOR: Matthew Hansen

Heimgartner glad to reunite with “good mate” from Super Black Racing

One barrier that André Heimgartner won't have to face in his preparations for a return to the Supercars Championship grid is having to work with a full team of strangers and new faces.

 

Not only are there several people operating on his Nissan Motorsport entry that he's worked with before, but he will also be engineered by Dilan Talabani — the man that engineered him through his debut full-time season in 2015 with Super Black Racing.

 

“It's obviously good having Dilan on there. When you go into a new team, you don't want there to be quite a lot of new people to learn again,” Heimgartner told velocitynews.co.nz.

 

“I've been good mates with him for a few years now, so we sort of get each other and how we work. It takes that one part out of it. [...] It just helps with moulding into the team. You just don't feel like you're 'starting again', which is really important.”

 

At the end of the 2015 season, Heimgartner shifted to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport's second entry. Talabani meanwhile remained at Prodrive Racing's Super Black Racing, operating alongside Chris Pither, before shifting to a role at Nissan Motorsport with Todd Kelly.

 

Kelly's retirement from the sport at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 opened up a slot for Heimgartner, and subsequently resulted in he and his former engineer getting reunited.

 

“Obviously the more you can fit into a situation, the easier it is, the more likely you're going to do it. I think when Todd was considering it he would've spoken to Dilan, and he would've been on my side you would imagine,” laughed Heimgartner.

 

For the Kiwi, a Supercars drive was all but off the cards for most of 2017. Instead, he spent most of the year focusing on his Porsche Carrera Cup Australia return, as well as various GT drives in Asia.

 

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But a couple of very strong performances in the PIRTEK Enduro Cup as a ring-in for the injured Ash Walsh put Heimgartner back on the radar of several teams.

 

“Even up until a couple of weeks ago, I wasn't thinking of anything to do with Supercars. It wasn't really on the cards, we were just constentrating on trying to get a program together for DVS or Carrera Cup.

 

“Then through different ways and all sorts of stuff that this deal came together, and they wanted me to drive, and were able to make something work.

 

“It's not like I didn't want to return to Supercars, but I was just being realistic. To get into a good team like this … we didn't think we'd be able to just do that. To be able to come straight into a good car, good team, it's pretty good.

 

“It's funny how when things line up how well you can do. I've been working pretty hard over the last 12 months with my fitness and a lot of other things off the track, and it's all paid off.

 

“My career … at various stages things haven't gone the way that they should've. At important times when it was time to step up or time for things to go my way that could've made a big difference. It's nice for once to have been given an opportunity and be able to take it and really go with it.”

 

The 22-year-old now lines up as the first New Zealander to drive in Australia's premier touring-car series for Nissan's factory team since Jim Richards in the days of Gibson Motorsport.

 

“They're definitely one of the best teams. They're one of the biggest teams, their facility is up there with the best. I think they're the best team to be with in the future, and I think they will produce more winning cars. They've won a few races in the Altimas, and I think there's going to be a few more coming next year and the year after.

 

“It's a good place, good environment. The Kelly Brothers are really nice guys, and I get on with them well. I'm really looking forward to getting to sink my teeth in and really grow and develop there.”

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