Jones: Heimgartner not far from breaking into top 10

Andre Heimgartner. Picture: Ross Gibb

Brad Jones believes his team isn’t far from putting Andre Heimgartner in a position to be a top 10 runner in the Supercars drivers’ championship.

After four years at the team now known as Grove Racing through its various guises, Heimgartner has this season made the move to Brad Jones Racing.

The R&J Batteries Racing driver started strongly in Sydney but was blighted by a pair of DNFs and a slew of lacklustre results across Symmons Plains and Melbourne.

Perth brought the New Zealander his first breakthrough of the year, claiming third in Race 11 after a late pit stop saw Heimgartner charge through on fresher tyres.

Winton was similarly fruitful, another podium coming his way in Race 15.

After a tumultuous start, Heimgartner has a run of six straight top 10 finishes to his credit leaving him a solid 12th in the title race.

Speaking with, Jones said continuing that momentum is a must.

“I felt that was very, very well executed,” Jones said of Winton.

“We’re going to go to Darwin where we’ve usually got a reasonable set-up there. It’s so close and so difficult here, you just take it one race at a time really.

“I feel like we’ve had quite significant changes in the organisation over the summer and with that I always felt we would have highs and lows, maybe not to massive extremes, but certainly more than we’re used to, and that has been the case, but I feel like this is the second race meeting where we’re running in a position and we’re pretty consistent and we’re able to move forward.

“If we can keep doing that, then Andre’s not far from being in the top 10 of the championship, which is our target and go forward from there. It’s just him learning us, us learning him, building a relationship between he and Tony [Woodward, race engineer] and the team.”

Although Winton has at times been a strong circuit for Brad Jones Racing in the past, there were concerns coming into the weekend their cars mightn’t be contenders.

That was expressed by Heimgartner on the broadcast and later echoed by Jones, who noted the team’s Commodore success hadn’t translated from the VF to the newer ZB.

“We’ve been a bit off here when we come here and test,” Jones explained.

“The set-up is obviously a lot different to what we ran in a VF. What he’s saying is true, we were a little concerned coming here.

“We were pretty speedy coming out of the box and tuned the car up from [Saturday to Sunday] and just got stronger and stronger. Solid.”

Of Heimgartner’s Race 15 success, Jones said he felt they couldn’t match leading duo Cameron Waters and Shane van Gisbergen, but were happy nevertheless.

“This one was really solid,” said Jones.

“He had great pace, qualified well, and converted. I didn’t feel we were quite where the two in front were, but our real race was with [David] Reynolds and the boys executed perfectly.

“The pit stop was a cracker, to beat Shane out was great. They just deliver time, and time, and time again. That was great.

“The race really ran to plan. It makes a big difference when you qualify up the front around those guys.”

The Repco Supercars Championship heads to Hidden Valley Raceway for the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown on June 17-19.

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