Sunday, Nov 10 09:13am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Career-best finish puts André Heimgartner in the box seat

Just 161 laps stand between André Heimgartner and redemption in this year’s PIRTEK Enduro Cup.

Paired with fellow young gun Bryce Fullwood, the Kelly Racing pair have had a torrid run of luck of late but aren’t far away from breaking the hoodoo.

A top 10 finish went begging after a mistake by Heimgartner ended their Bathurst 1000 late in the piece. Then Heimgartner got spun into the wall while he was once again in a strong position at the Gold Coast 600.

Heimgartner showed speed in Practice at this weekend’s Penrite Oil Sandown 500 and converted that into a strong Qualifying effort to claim third place.

Fullwood took the reins of the Nissan Altima in what proved to be a wild co-driver race. The Dunlop Super2 Series front runner was in contention for a podium when he looped around at Turn 3 but managed to recover and claim fourth place.

That put Heimgartner on the second row in the second race for the grid. He benefited from a collision between Shane van Gisbergen and Anton de Pasquale, sneaking through and staying out of trouble to bring home a comfortable second-place finish.

With the race for the grid counting for points, it’s Heimgartner’s best career finish in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship to date. However, he hasn’t got a trophy yet with Sunday’s 500 km feature race the one where it counts.

“There were a couple of times during that crazy co-driver race where I didn’t quite think I’d be starting from the second row for that final qualifying race,” Heimgartner said.

“Bryce had us all on the edge of our seat but it was good he gathered it up and kept his cool, in those situations, it’s easy to fall down a slippery slope but I'm happy with how he did.

“Obviously, I’m extremely happy to finish second in my race today after starting fourth, the conditions were very tricky but I think I drove a pretty calm and collected race, took advantage of a couple of other car’s incidents at the start and just looked after the wet tyres as the track started to dry out.”

“Both myself and Bryce are now just looking forward to starting tomorrow’s race from the front row and hopefully we can finally get a decent Enduro Cup result after it’s slipped away from us the last couple of rounds.”

It’s the second year in a row that the Kelly Racing entry has done well. Last year Aaren Russell claimed a top spot in the co-driver race, however, they only managed to get 14th in the feature race.

The Sandown 500 gets underway at 3:25 pm NZST on Sunday.