Kiwi Andre Heimgartner has claimed a stellar pole position for the opening race of the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend, conquering wet weather and dominating both Q2 and Q3. It’s Heimgartner’s second career pole in Supercars, and his first of 2021.
“The car was great, its been great in practice. Really really happy. It’s great for Ned and great for Kelly Grove Racing to get our first pole position for the year,” Heimgartner said.
He will start alongside Chaz Mostert, with a standout drive from Will Brown seeing the Erebus Motorsport rookie starting from third. Anton De Pasquale and James Courtney round out the top five, with Shane van Gisbergen starting from eighth.
Qualifying one opened to a wet track; the weather having been inclement for most of the day and part of morning practice. Cameron Waters was one of the few drivers in the early running to throw down a 2min 06 time early, setting a 2:06.845. Jamie Whincup and Will Davison also crossed into the sixes ahead of the closing minutes.
In the wet conditions all eyes were on van Gisbergen, to see whether he could shake up the leaders. With a minute to go he improved, but only to fifth. This was short-lived though, with Mostert slamming home the first 2min 05sec of the session, a 2:05.846.
Mostert’s time ended up being the quickest of Q1, over half a second quicker than anyone else, with Anton de Pasquale, Whincup, Waters, and a sharp Brodie Kostecki, Davison, and van Gisbergen completed the top five.
Zane Goddard, Jack Le Brocq, Todd Hazelwood, Jack Smith, Macauley Jones, and an embattled Nick Percat were knocked out at the end of Q1; all four Brad Jones Racing entries struggling in the wet weather.
Heimgartner emerged as the start of Q2 early, leading for a period with a 2:06.172, following on from his strong speed in practice. With two minutes to go he led Waters, Davison, Whincup, and Will Brown.
It was a forgettable session for Mark Winterbottom. Mechanical gremlins saw him exit proceedings early, guaranteeing himself an elimination slot. When the session finished up, he wound up at the bottom in 20th. Eleventh through to 19th were also eliminated; David Reynolds, Scott Pye, wildcard Thomas Randle, Tim Slade, Jake Kostecki, Bryce Fullwood, the second wildcard Kurt Kostecki, Garry Jacobson, and Fabian Coulthard.
This left Heimgartner at the head of an intriguing top 10 for Q3; Waters, van Gibsergen, Brown, Davison, Whincup, James Courtney, Anton de Pasquale, Chaz Mostert, and Brodie Kostecki also progressing.
The inclement conditions hung around for the final phase, and Heimgartner was able to keep his rhythm going by virtue of doing something a little different … using warm tyres from the previous session. He led the session early on a slower 2:07.856 as conditions appeared to worsen. With three minutes left, the Kiwi’s closest rival was Mostert some four tenths away.
As the clock approached zero, it was questionable whether anyone had anything for Heimgartner’s excellent time. Even with a couple of late fast times from the likes of Mostert, he was able to retain his spot to claim a memorable pole position in the wet.
In the end he was two tenths quicker than Mostert’s best, with Brown another four tenths adrift in what’s proving to be an exemplary rookie season. De Pasquale, Courtney, Davison, Waters, van Gisbergen, Whincup, and Brodie Kostecki round out the top 10.