Grove: Victory vindicates KGR’s direction

Andre Heimgartner hugs engineer Dilan Talabani following his Race 9 win at Tailem Bend

Kelly Grove Racing co-owner Stephen Grove has set his sights on securing a consistent presence at the pointy end of the Repco Supercars Championship field.

The Braeside squad last month took its first win since switching to Ford at the start of 2020, and since the Grove family’s buy-in this January.

That result came at the most recent round at The Bend Motorsport Park, as Andre Heimgartner blitzed the field to win from pole in tricky conditions – even after being issued a five-second penalty for a pit lane infringement.

Ever the entrepreneurial operation, KGR has appeared to be pushing even harder on the development front this year in a bid to establish themselves as a genuine contender.

Their efforts were first rewarded by high-profile recruit David Reynolds’ podium at Sandown in March, and then Heimgartner’s Bend triumph.

Between them, Heimgartner and Reynolds have netted 11 top 10 finishes in 11 races this season; they sit eighth and 13th in the championship, respectively.

“It’s certainly special because everybody is so committed,” Grove told of the May win.

“We are a small team and everyone is committed and everyone works really, really hard and the results just vindicate the hard work.

“The guys work late, the mechanics, the commercial team, the people that stay back at the workshop and build all of the parts that we’ve been certainly sending a lot down their way to get those new parts made.

“If you can work really hard at something and get a result like we got, it’s just a real relief for everybody and gets everybody back and working hard again and trying to replicate what we did, which is unbelievably hard in this category.”

Heimgartner (left)

KGR’s first shot at replicating that success was initially meant to come at the end of last month at Winton Motor Raceway, where they and other southern-based teams had tested in the lead-up.

However, the COVID-forced postponement of that event means the next competitive outing will instead come at the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown on June 18-20.

“It’s super important for that not to be a one-off,” Grove added.

“We need to keep getting results. For us, the teams’ championship is really important so we need to keep getting results.

“Both cars getting results is something we’re really working hard at.”

KGR is currently sixth in the teams’ championship. They were the ninth-highest ranked two-car combination in 2020.

Following precautions to protect the Darwin round, KGR and its Victorian counterparts headed on the road into New South Wales last week.

Its crew has prepared for the Hidden Valley visit with time on the Kelly family farm north of Mildura, while drivers Reynolds and Heimgartner have been situated in Albury and Sydney, respectively.

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