Andre Heimgartner will race alongside Alexandra Whitley in the final round of the New Zealand Toyota 86 endurance series at Pukekohe Park this weekend.
Current BNT V8 champion and Australian Supercars racer, Heimgartner is just the latest in a growing list of big Kiwi names set to offer their skills to the next generation of drivers.
Whitley, a former V8 Ute race winner, was partnered with Brad Jesson for the opening round at Hampton Downs. But she says she is eager to gain some valuable knowledge from Heimgartner’s wealth of touring car experience.
“I’m definitely looking forward to learning from his knowledge and experience,” she said. “It’s a great partnership, I love Pukekohe and I expect us to be competitive.”
Heimgartner has just come away from one his most robust Supercars campaigns with Kelly Racing.
This year he finished 14th in the championship and snagged two podiums at Sydney Motorsport Park and Tailem Bend. He was also ranked the ninth best driver among the 2020 field on the Supercars top-ten countdown.
Heimgartner and Whitley will be up against stern competition this weekend with GT ace Daniel Gaunt returning with Talyer Bryant. The two were a winning combination at Hampton Downs after executing a brilliant fuel conservation strategy.
Porsche Carrera Cup champion Chris van der Drift will link up with Ronan Murphy in a second Dayle ITM-backed car. Christina Orr-West and Rowan Shepherd will return in the sister Dayle ITM machine.
Most recent race winners Billy Frazer and Connor Adam will head into the final two races with one hand on the championship, holding a slender points lead.
But category manager Geoff Short says the involvement of some of New Zealand’s top drivers will make for an unpredictable affair.
“The two one-hour races will be hotly contested, I don’t think there’s going to be any doubt about that,” said Short.
“There’s some strategy involved and the top guns like to win so we expect to see them working very closely with their team mates to get the most out of themselves and the cars. The young drivers will learn so much in that kind of environment and it’s great that the older more experienced racers are giving back in this way.”
While the mini endurance series draws to a close this weekend, the Toyota 86 field will jump back into life for a five-round sprint series starting in January and running through to the end of March.