Saint Kentigern high school student Andre' Heimgartner had his best ever round in the inaugural V8SuperTourer series, held at Hampton Downs over Queens birthday weekend, where he outdrove some of New Zealand's better known names – all older and more experienced than he.
The two-time New Zealand Formula Ford champion and current Team Kiwi Racing development driver completed the three-race weekend aboard the #22 Pink Batts/Superlux Holden VEII Commodore finishing fifth overall from a field of 17.
"It was pretty exceptional weekend and a real buzz to be so competitive against some of my idols," said Heimgartner.
"The team had tested extensively in the run up and worked hard to get the setup bang on for the conditions – and that wasn't easy given the time of year and changeable conditions."
Fastest in the weekend's first practise session with a new fastest ever time around the 2.63km race circuit, Heimgartner ended up eighth in qualifying – where the top 15 cars were all within one second of the leader.
Heimgartner banked that start position as his first race result – held on the Saturday afternoon.
There was a bit of rubbing in the first lap I was lucky to not end up in the middle of given that I had made a wrong call on tyre pressures" he explained. "Although I would have liked to have finished a bit higher we were still setting consistent lap times. I was reminded after the race how hard Craig Baird had tried to pressure me into a mistake and get past, but as the race wore on our car setup improved and I started to get further and further from his reach and on to passing others.
Sunday's two races saw an improvement in the placings with a fourth from the opening race – finishing ahead of V8Supercar legend Greg Murphy. In the third and final race he placed fifth – after 35 laps and duelling with sprint series runner-up Jonny Reid, holding off his challenges for over 20 laps.
"Jonny Reid did everything he could to get past to try clinch the overall championship title. While I eventually lost one position to Reid I finished ahead of eventual champion John McIntyre for the race."
Fresh from winning the 'Hard Charger' award in the Australian Porsche Carrera Cup series, Heimgartner said the transition from the Team Kiwi Racing Porsche 997 to the Holden V8SuperTourer gave him an edge against other drivers who hadn't been as active.
He now has a month of school study until he next gets aboard a race car again – the Team Kiwi Racing Porsche 997, where he will contest the Carrera Cup series fifth round around the streets of Townsville in Australia. Heimgartner will return to the V8SuperTourer series for the first round of the endurance championship – to be held 1-2 September near Taupo.