Kelly Racing driver Andre Heimgartner experienced both sides of lady luck in New Zealand at the weekend for the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.
After benefiting from a well-timed safety car in Saturday’s race, Sunday saw the 24 year old Kiwi disadvantaged along with a large number of his competitors by safety car complications in Sunday’s 70 lap outing.
On Saturday, Heimgartner was able to turn around a qualifying position of 16th to a top ten finish with a race result of 8th in the #7 Plus Fitness Nissan Altima.
His race strategy was helped along the way thanks to a safety car being called just as he was completing his first pit stop, allowing him to resume the race in fourth position before a longer second stop to meet the minimum fuel drop requirements for the race saw him cross the line in eighth position.
On Sunday the qualifying pace was slightly better in the #7 with Heimgartner starting the race from 13th on the grid. He improved his position off the start to run as high as 11th before completing his first stop, but along with a large portion of the field he would soon fall foul of a problematic safety car situation which still had the Supercars paddock talking some hours after the race conclusion. He would finish the race in 19th position.
“Safety cars were certainly been a talking point in New Zealand at the weekend,” Heimgartner said.
“On Saturday we were happy about the safety car in that race as it came just as we were finishing our first stop so we were able to use that to our advantage to gain a few spots and then use our car speed to bring home a top ten finish.
“It was a good reward at that point of the weekend as it had been a pretty tricky event for us to that point, and we were hoping to improve further on Sunday.
“While qualifying on Sunday was slightly better for us as we improved our starting position over Saturday, the race soon went awry for us and a lot of other racers out there.
“We were in a pretty good position early, but then the safety car came out and things got really complicated , really fast – there were questions around who was leading the race and whether the leader had been picked up or not and amidst that Jamie Whincup passed the safety car under yellow lights while the rest of the field was held for another lap and a half.
“It was really confusing for everyone involved and negatively impacted quite a few drivers out there, us included. While we had been in a pretty good position early on, we ended up quite far back amidst all the confusion and we just didn’t have the car speed to recover in the latter stages of the race. That was really disappointing as I feel like we could have been up the pointy end otherwise, but it just wasn’t to be.
“There isn’t anything we can do about it, so we will just have to put it all behind us and turn our focus towards the Great Race coming up at Bathurst.
“While the race results might not have gone our way at the weekend, I do have to say I always love coming home to New Zealand to race and I can never say enough about the fans over here – the support I have received this weekend has just been phenomenal and I really appreciate everyone getting behind me.”
Andre Heimgartner will now head to Sandown Raceway for the penultimate round of the TCR Australia Championship with Kelly Racing (September 20-22) before the team travels to Bathurst’s infamous Mount Panorama for the 2019 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.