One of the busiest racing drivers in the country over the past six weeks must have been 14-year-old Andre Heimgartner of Dannemora, Auckland East
Heimgartner, the Winter Formula Ford Series Champion, has been contesting both the Zoagn NZ Formula Ford Championship as well as the South Island Formula Ford Championship in this, his rookie Formula Ford season.
Motorsport commitments have taken up every weekend since the beginning of November while the Year 9 St Kentigerns student has also been sitting exams - a huge workload for the youngster.
Andre's programme started at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna in Christchurch on 1 November when the first round of the South Island Series was held. With no opportunity to test the 1993 Van Diemen that he is leasing from Motorsport Solutions prior to the round Andre struggled with the car's handling throughout the day. Nevertheless, pole position, a race win plus a 4th and 2nd placing and the fastest lap of the day enabled the Aucklander to leave the circuit holding second place in the South Island Championship.
The following weekend Heimgartner was at Pukekohe in his familiar Van Diemen Stealth for the opening round of the Zoagn sponsored National Championship. In a round where he battled various issues Andre showed his speed with the fourth fastest lap in the final race. Despite the fact that it was a difficult weekend for the teenager he still sealed 7th place in the points over the course of the weekend.
One week later and it was back to the South Island and a first visit to the Timaru International Raceway at Levels. It was a memorable visit too as Andre dominated, qualifying over a second quicker than the second fastest car and then winning all three races to take the lead in the South Island Series.
There were two more weekends in the month and Andre spent them both in Christchurch. First up, testing at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway was on the agenda, before the focus moved to Round 2 of the national series at the circuit a week later.
It was a round that saw Andre emerge as a real threat in just his second ever national outing. He and team mate Nick Cassidy were the quickest in qualifying, Andre on the front row for the first race just .02 of a second off pole.
Andre led away in the first race before Cassidy snuck past. Later in the race Heimgartner spun whilst in second place, remarkably gathering it up and continuing on to finish second. Andre made a great start in race two only to get caught up in an incident where four drivers spun at the first corner. He recovered at the rear of the field and drove a good race back to sixth place.
The final race produced a fifth place and Andre departed Ruapuna fifth in the championship.
The frantic schedule continued this past weekend as he defended his lead in the South Island Series on his first visit to Teretonga Park in Invercargill. Venturing onto current National Series leader Damon Leitch's home track Andre surprised even himself qualifying faster than the local star. In the first race Leitch used his intimate knowledge of Teretonga to dive under Andre and take the race win but Heimgartner was more than equal to the challenge, winning the next two races and leaving Teretonga with double the points lead he arrived with.
Andre will now enjoy a long overdue break for Christmas before he returns to Powerbuilt Tools Raceway in Christchurch for Round 4 of the South Island Formula Ford Championship over the weekend of 9/10 January. CALENDAR 2009/2010
ZOAGN FORMULA FORD CHAMPIONSHIP
Round 1 - 6-8 November 2009: Pukekohe Park Raceway, Auckland
Round 2 - 27-29 November 2009: Powerbuilt Tools International Raceway, Ruapuna, Christchurch
Round 3 - 15-17 January 2010: Teretonga Park, Invercargill
Round 4 - 22-24 January 2010: Timaru International Motor Raceway, Timaru
Round 5 - 12-14 February 2010: Manfeild Park, Feilding
Round 6 - 19-21 March 2009: Taupo Motorsport Park, Taupo