Andre Heimgartner has had an impressive round four at Sydney Motorsport Park after securing his first Supercars pole position as well as a second place in Sunday’s race 3.
With tyre strategy being key to success over the weekend, the NED Kelly racing crew decided to run hard compound tyres over the Saturday sessions and kept the softs for Sunday.
It was evident that softs were the quicker choice, with Saturday proving a struggle for the 24-year old, where he qualified 20th setting his position ahead of the night race. Unfortunately, with tyre degradation high and opting to run hards only; P17 was all Heimgartner could manage.
“Obviously with the different tyre compounds there were a few different strategies that came into play and we chose to keep our softs for the Sunday which hindered our day on Saturday a little; but it was a sacrifice we were willing to make,” said Heimgartner.
The sacrifice paid dividends to the NED Kelly racer come Sunday, after he finished no lower than twelfth in all four on-track sessions. The Kiwi managed to better his first qualifying session of fourth and claimed pole in the second qualifying session, his first Supercars career pole and the team’s first pole in the Ford Mustang.
“I am absolutely stoked to come away with a pole. The team have worked so hard and to be able to reward them was awesome,” said Heimgartner.
Heimgartner knew he had put himself in a good position for the final race, so come race 2 he played it safe to ensure the car was in good shape for the final sprint and crossed the line in P12.
Starting from pole position for Sunday’s final race, Heimgartner got a great start and managed to hold the lead comfortably. After a pit-stop Andre re-joined the race on cold softs, just behind Jack Le Brocq whose green tyres were already warmed up with more grip. The NED Whiskey pilot was unable to get past Le Brocq due to the severe aero wash and held off aggressive challenges from David Reynolds and Todd Hazelwood to claim 2nd and a stunning podium finish.
“The race went fairly well for us; we got a good start and had a good battle there with Jamie through turn one which was cool. The car was really speedy in the first stint, I was able to drive away and build a pretty good gap to the car behind and wasn’t really phased by too much, the car looked after its tyres really well,” said Heimgartner.
“We pitted and Jack jumped us. I sat on his rear bumper but when you’re close behind someone the aero wash makes it impossible to pass. I tried to save the tyres a bit and have a go at the end but it wasn’t meant to be.
“I think we lost a little time in the pits compared to Jack, but overall we started from pole position and came second, so our speed was very impressive.
“It’s a big tick in a lot of areas and now we have to use this as motivation to go forward. We haven’t unlocked it all just yet, we still have some work to do and go to Darwin and have a big crack at it.”
The Virgin Australia Supercars head to Hidden Valley for the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown 8-9 August and return for a sequential event 15-16 August.