Clutch issue thwarts Heimgartner’s speed in Perth

| Photographer Credit: Dirk Klynsmith Photography

Following further development of his new engine, Andre Heimgartner was looking forward to applying some new-found speed at Barbagallo Raceway’s Woodstock SuperSprint at the weekend – unfortunately, the racing gods had other ideas.

The young Kiwi felt the bite of the notoriously hard-on-tyres Barbagallo Raceway during Saturday’s 120km race.

Tyre degradation was an issue for a large portion of the field, and with a one-stop strategy in play for the 20 year old Kiwi, the final stages of the race saw the Melbourne resident struggling for control while those with fresher rubber loomed. He held on to be 17th with just five laps remaining, and would finish 21st.

Fine-tuning to the chassis to help the car look after its tyres better was undertaken overnight, and come Sunday the team were feeling confident of better results on Sunday.

However as so often happens in racing, things did not go to plan – Heimgartner would lose the clutch and first gear on the warm-up lap – leaving him stranded on the start-line and hampered throughout the race, most obviously during his three scheduled pit stops.

Despite tough conditions, the Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport driver would refuse to give up, pushing on to bring the car home straight in 25th.

“It was a pretty crazy weekend, but that’s racing and we never give up,” said Heimgartner.

“On both Friday and Saturday the weather was just all over the place, every time we were preparing to go out it seemed to just bucket down. For the race start for instance, the sun was shining, but there we all were on wet tyres racing through puddles because it had poured down as we got ready to go out to the grid,” laughed the young Kiwi.

“We played a one-stop strategy on Saturday and we were running pretty well in the final stages, but unfortunately the tyre life really caught up with me and the final five laps in particular very tough. Those who were on a two-stop strategy and therefore had newer tyres were able to take advantage of that.

“I wasn’t too discouraged though, as the car was feeling pretty speedy and I was confident that with some fine-tuning to look after the tyres there was something to be made of it come Sunday.”

Sunday’s action kicked off with an incredibly intense qualifying session, with 25 of the 26 entrants covered by just 0.62 of a second.

“To have so many cars covered by such a small slice of time really shows how competitive this field is,” said Heimgartner, who qualified 24th.

“As far as the race – I lost the clutch and first gear on the warm-up and so by the time I actually got going, I was a long way behind the closest car on the track and had a lot of work to do.

“Not having first gear really hampered my efforts, but the car was still had speed so I pushed on as best I could. Unfortunately every time I went to the pits it was a bit of an issue, as it was really hard to get out of the pit box without first gear.

“We did what we could and brought it home while logging some data and some more experience with the car, with the track, and for me and the crew. This is the way racing goes sometimes so you just have to take away the lessons and look forward – onwards and upwards as they say!”

Heimgartner’s attention now turns to the Winton SuperSprint across May 20-22.

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