Monday, May 7 03:56pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

André Heimgartner: Last lap place loss was "not a good feeling"

Despite recording a season-best eighth place in Perth, André Heimgartner has been left lamenting a last lap blunder.


The 22-year-old Aucklander was on track to record a fifth place finish at the latest round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. However, he speared off the road on the final lap in the last lap melee with fellow New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen.


On fresher tyres, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team pushed through to take fifth place from Heimgartner. The pair went side-by-side up the turn three and four esses, which put Heimgartner out of kilter and into the marbles.


Out wide and in the slippery stuff, Heimgartner lost all grip and went off at turn four.


“I don’t know whether we could have held off van Gisbergen for the rest of that final lap as he had better tyres than us and was very quick,” Heimgartner said.


“But to lose not only that position but then two more after being bumped off the road is not a good feeling, especially after such a great race.”


Heimgartner was buoyed by the pace found in the no.7 Nissan Altima. Their weekend started off strong with the fastest time of anyone in practice one. Saturday saw a totally different picture, however, as he qualified down the order and finshed race one second-to-last.


Fortunately Heimgartner and the team turned their woes around and found the same pace they’d had on Friday. The Kiwi qualified fourth on Sunday—his best result to date.


Heimgartner ran consistently up the front throughout the race and was at one point as high as second place.


Pit stop strategy saw some rearwards of the top 10 charge through late in the race. That included Triple Eight Race Engineering duo Craig Lowndes and van Gisbergen, who both demoted Heimgartner.


The Kiwi eventually finished in eighth behind Jamie Whincup and Nick Percat in sixth and seventh respectively.

“While that wasn’t the end that we wanted, if we look at the race overall, I am very happy.

“We qualified well this morning through each stage of the qualifying format, and we converted that practice and qualifying speed into a race set-up which saw us well and truly in the top five all race long.

“At the end of the day, it was a strong day for the no.7 and especially after Saturday’s issues, we are very happy with what we were able to put together.

“It was very rewarding to see Sunday go a whole lot better for us. It might not have been perfect, but we made big strides today and really showed that we are capable of running up the front – I can’t wait to carry this momentum forward to Winton in a couple of weeks’ time.”


The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship heads to Winton Raceway over May 18–20 for the Winton SuperSprint.


Photo: Nissan Motorsport