Andre Heimgartner and his #7 Plus Fitness Racing Nissan Altima have endured a tough Watpac Townsville 400, with the 24 year old holding on to bring it home in 12th and 15th despite being the victim of costly contact each day.
On Saturday, the #7 started from eighth on the grid and a great start saw the Melbourne-based Kiwi jump up to sixth early before contact from another car to the rear of his Kelly Racing Altima saw him fall back to ninth place. The hit cost him valuable time in the pits as well, with significant damage to the rear bumper meaning it had to be removed during his pit stop, dropping him further down the field.
Heimgartner wouldn’t give up however, capitalising on some good car speed to push back through the field and finish 12th after passing James Courtney on the final lap.
Come Sunday, the young gun qualified 11th and was racing strong throughout very wet conditions before unfortunately again being spun in the same corner as Saturday, this time by Mark Winterbottom who received a drive-through penalty for the contact.
Once again the impact of the contact would be compounded in the lane, with a damaged front guard which was causing tyre rubbing needing to be repaired in the pit stop with Heimgartner forced to just hold on to bring the #7 home for valuable championship points amid hectic rainy conditions.
“Townsville has certainly been character-building, to be on the receiving end of damage-causing contact not just on Saturday but also on Sunday has been quite disappointing,” Heimgartner said.
“We had pretty good pace early in the race both days, but the damage we incurred impacted our ability on the track and then saw us lose valuable time and track position in the pit stops, so we were just fighting against it from start to finish.
“It is a shame today was so wet, we had quite a quick car in the dry and it could have been a whole different ball game, but that wasn’t the way it went today.
“You have to have bad days from time to time and this is one of those, but we will put it behind us and look ahead to Ipswich’s Century Batteries Ipswich Super Sprint in a few of weeks’ time – hopefully that will be a much sunnier and happier weekend all round.”
Heimgartner will next be on-track with Kelly Racing and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at Ipswich’s Queensland Raceway for the Century Batteries Ipswich Super Sprint across July 26-28 before he re-joins the HubAuto Corsa team for the fifth round of the Blancpain GT Asia World Challenge at the Korea International Circuit across August 3-4.