Heimgartner overcomes penalty to claim first win
Saturday 8th May, 2021 - 5:44pm
Andre Heimgartner has overcome a five-second penalty to notch up a first race win in the Repco Supercars Championship, at The Bend Motorsport Park.
The Kelly Grove Racing driver took the chequered flag 8.9793s up on Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert in Race 9 of the season at the OTR SuperSprint, meaning an official margin of victory of almost four seconds after the sanction for an unsafe release was applied.
Dick Johnson Racing’s Anton De Pasquale rounded out the podium while Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters fought back to finish fourth despite nearly nailing Jamie Whincup midway through the piece.
Nick Percat drove from the very rear of the 26-car field to fifth in the end, thanks in no small part to some canny strategy from Brad Jones Racing which took advantage of the changing track conditions.
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Whincup wound up sixth and his championship-leading Triple Eight Race Engineering team-mate Shane van Gisbergen seventh, the latter suffering in a costly pit stop.
With the race getting underway on a damp track, prompting all but three of the four BJR entries to start on wets, it was a wild opening lap.
Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore) walked away well but pole-sitter Heimgartner ended up in the middle of the DJR cars in a three-wide run to the third corner.
De Pasquale (#11 Shell V-Power Mustang) emerged in second position, before he and Heimgartner went past Mostert when the WAU driver squirmed on the slippery Turn 5 exit kerb.
However, De Pasquale ran wide at the Turn 6 hairpin and dropped to sixth, meaning Heimgartner was in the lead after all, ahead of Mostert, Will Davison (#17 Shell V-Power Mustang), van Gisbergen (#97 Red Bull Ampol ZB Commodore), and Will Brown (#9 Ozland Group Solutions ZB Commodore).
Van Gisbergen passed Davison on Lap 1 at the Turn 14/Turn 15 complex, which robbed the DJR driver of momentum and caused him to lose positions hand over fist.
Mostert skated wide at the same spot a lap later and barely held van Gisbergen at bay, as Heimgartner charged towards a three-second advantage.
The opening of the compulsory pit stop window at the end of Lap 5 prompted several to pit, including Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang) from sixth and Davison from all the way back in 11th, with a change from wets to slicks the order of the day.
Van Gisbergen and De Pasquale, among others, were into the lane on Lap 6, and it was a costly stop for the former when Triple Eight’s air spike got snagged and the crew had to revert to the spare.
Heimgartner led by over six seconds when Kelly Grove Racing called him to the pits on Lap 7, and a critical moment would then unfold.
The #7 Mustang was sent back into the fast lane without being fully clear of Whincup, and contact with the #88 ZB Commodore ensued.
Heimgartner would soon be issued a five-second time penalty at a point in the race where he had a margin of approximately that much over Mostert, who remained an effective second place having followed him into the lane.
However, the New Zealander had the pace to continue to gap the #25 ZB Commodore and therefore hold on to the effective race lead.
In the official race lead, however, was soon Percat (#8 R&J Batteries ZB Commodore), who was continuing to circulate on the slick tyres which he started the race with.
BJR team-mate Todd Hazelwood (#14 TRG Transport ZB Commodore) sat one position behind and on the same strategy but dropped outside the top 10 once he finally took new rears, promoting Heimgartner to second spot.
There was a nervous moment for the KGR driver when he slid wide at Turn 17 on Lap 18 but his margin over Mostert only dropped to 8.9s.
When Percat pitted on Lap 20, Heimgartner was 9.7s up on Mostert and therefore effectively 4.7s to the good, as Percat merged into third.
He could not hold De Pasquale at bay on cold tyres, but did prove a nuisance for the DJR driver when the rears on Car #8 did come up to temperature.
Heimgartner had an official lead of 8.9s to start the 24th and final lap, and duly went on to not only his first ever win, but KGR’s first in its current guise, KGR’s first with Mustangs, and the first for a Ford since the penultimate event of 2020.
“It was awesome,” he said.
“The Ned Whisky car was amazing that time. I just put my head down.
“There was a bit of action at the start which we managed to get to the front and then the car was good but I had to keep pushing.
“I’m just really, really over the moon. It’s been way too long – I think it has been six years so I’m just over the moon. I’ve finally got it off my back.”
On the penalty, Heimgartner explained, “They never told me; I knew.
“When we had contact I was like, ‘Oh geez, that just made it a lot harder for myself,’ and I knew I had to get five seconds.
“On the last lap it was 4.5s [spare] so I just knew but they didn’t tell me.
“But yeah, I’m just over the moon that I was able to get that five seconds and get the win.”
Waters held fifth for much of the closing stages despite losing a spot midway through the race when he locked up and almost crunched into Whincup as the latter came up to speed after his stop.
With De Pasquale holding Percat at bay, the South Australian made an error on the final lap at Turn 12 which allowed Waters to nab fourth.
Whincup finished sixth and van Gisbergen got back up to seventh, despite a late off to add to the pit stop mishap.
He also scrounged an extra five championship points for setting the fastest lap, with his lead atop the standings now 140 points over Whincup.
The rest of the top 10 on the day was Davison, Brodie Kostecki (#99 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore), and Jack Le Brocq (#5 Truck Assist Mustang).
Mark Winterbottom (#18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore) got home two laps down in 25th despite carrying a power steering failure into the race.
David Reynolds was the only DNF after contact with Tim Slade (#3 CoolDrive Mustang) damaged the right-front corner of the #26 Penrite Mustang.
The qualifying sessions for Races 10 and 11 commence tomorrow from 09:10 local time/09:40 AEST.
Results: Race 9, OTR SuperSprint
|1||7||NED Whisky Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ford Mustang GT||24||47:45.7544|
|2||25||Mobil 1 Appliances Online||Chaz Mostert||Holden Commodore ZB||24||47:49.7337|
|3||11||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Anton De Pasquale||Ford Mustang GT||24||47:54.6674|
|4||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||24||47:56.2142|
|5||8||R&J Batteries||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||24||47:56.5330|
|6||88||Red Bull Ampol Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||24||47:57.6709|
|7||97||Red Bull Ampol Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:11.1289|
|8||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Will Davison||Ford Mustang GT||24||48:13.2047|
|9||99||Erebus Boost Mobile Racing||Brodie Kostecki||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:17.7512|
|10||5||Truck Assist Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Ford Mustang GT||24||48:19.1409|
|11||9||Erebus Motorsport||William Brown||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:22.3738|
|12||44||Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Ford Mustang GT||24||48:23.5569|
|13||20||DEWALT Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:25.2013|
|14||3||CoolDrive Racing||Tim Slade||Ford Mustang GT||24||48:25.5206|
|15||14||TRG Transport||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:29.3101|
|16||2||Mobil 1 Middy’s Racing||Bryce Fullwood||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:29.4762|
|17||55||Castrol Racing||Thomas Randle||Ford Mustang GT||24||48:30.3218|
|18||35||Yellow Cover Racing||Zane Goddard||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:31.6116|
|19||27||Walkinshaw Andretti United||Kurt Kostecki||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:41.0018|
|20||19||Local Legends||Fabian Coulthard||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:41.3929|
|21||34||UNIT Racing||Jake Kostecki||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:46.0522|
|22||96||Coca-Cola Racing||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||24||48:46.1056|
|23||4||SCT Motor Sports||Jack Smith||Holden Commodore ZB||24||49:03.0360|
|24||22||Team SYDNEY||Garry Jacobson||Holden Commodore ZB||24||49:18.3026|
|25||18||IRWIN Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||22||48:17.6601|
|NC||26||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Ford Mustang GT||11||26:28.8141|
Fastest lap (bonus): Shane van Gisbergen 1:50.2415, Lap 23
|1||Shane van Gisbergen||934|
|7||Anton De Pasquale||548|
|14||Jack Le Brocq||444|
|1||88||97||Triple Eight Race Engineering||1728|
|2||11||17||100||Dick Johnson Racing||1231|
|3||2||25||Walkinshaw Andretti United||1209|
|6||7||26||Kelly Grove Racing||1004|
|8||8||14||Brad Jones Racing||948|
|9||34||35||Matt Stone Racing||744|
|11||4||96||Brad Jones Racing||522|
|13||3||Blanchard Racing Team||306|
|15||27||Walkinshaw Andretti United||32|