The weekend’s Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint has proved one for Nissan Motorsport pilot Andre Heimgartner, with the 22-year old Dannemora local’s resolve tested repeatedly across the event.
In true Heimgartner style, the Melbourne-based Kiwi refused to give up, pushing on through car issues on Saturday and damage on Sunday to ensure the #7 Plus Fitness Nissan Altima finished both races and secured as many championship points as necessary.
“It was a tricky weekend out there for sure, but we did what we could and pushed ahead as much as we could, we weren’t going to give up even though the event seemed to be throwing all it had at us!” said Heimgartner.
The weekend got started with two practice sessions on Friday, as part of a new qualifying format that was being trialled this weekend. He would finish 21st in the second session after being unable to set a ‘green tyre’ time, but would salvage that in the opening stint of qualifying on Saturday by being in the top six — seeing him progress to Q2.
As a result, he started Saturday’s race from 16th on the grid, however a struggle for drive out of the circuit’s tight hairpin plus the forcing of an alternate pit strategy to avoid double stacking saw the 2018 BNT NZV8s Champion up against it across the 50-lap stanza. He would push on to finish in 17th position.
Come Sunday, and the results of the morning’s qualifying format saw Heimgartner line up 19th on the grid for the 84-lap final race of the weekend. Unfortunately, early race contact in the hairpin would see a bent car cause havoc with the rest of his race. He would finish 19th.
“Not getting my lap in at the end of the practice sessions on Friday made things difficult, but the car itself was feeling pretty good and we were able to go into qualifying the next day and make it into the second session,” Heimgartner said.
“Unfortunately when it came to the race, we were a bit hamstrung with a lack of drive and also being in a bit of a corner with the strategy. At the end of the day, I was thankful to leave with a straight car.
“We looked over the car on Saturday night and made some changes and were feeling a lot better about it, but then come Sunday I got run out of road very early on in the race in the hairpin and as a result of that contact, I had to deal with bent suspension on the left-rear for the rest of the race.
“We hung in there and did the best that we could, climbing back up where we could from the back, but it is hard going around that place with a bent car.
“This has certainly been another one of those weekends that are character-building, but we won’t give up and you can expect us to be back fighting again in a few weeks’ time at Phillip Island.
“As a fast and flowing circuit, the Phillip Island track appeals to me and my driving style and I am very much looking forward to taking what we can from this weekend and hopefully having a better crack at it back in Victoria!”
Heimgartner will next be on-track with Nissan Motorsport for the WD-40 Phillip Island 500 across April 20-22.