Heimgartner on verge of ‘pretty epic’ milestone

Andre Heimgartner in his 97th Supercars Championship event, earlier this season

Andre Heimgartner in his 97th Supercars Championship event, earlier this season

Andre Heimgartner has described his imminent milestone of 100 Supercars event starts as a “pretty epic” proposition.

The 27-year-old debuted in the Repco Supercars Championship in 2014, in Super Black Racing’s debut as a wildcard entry in the Bathurst 1000.

While he and Ant Pedersen finished 11th that Sunday at Mount Panorama, Heimgartner would not see out his rookie season with the squad, replaced by Chris Pither before the end of the 2015 campaign.

He landed at Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport in 2016 before a stint in the relative wilderness, competing in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia in 2017 but without any Supercars ride to speak of.

That was until one man’s misfortune – Ash Walsh’s – become another’s stroke of luck when he was called up to fill in for the injured Queenslander at Brad Jones Racing in the 2017 Bathurst 1000 and again a fortnight later on the Gold Coast.

On the rain-hit streets of Surfers Paradise, Heimgartner played an integral role in a podium for him and Tim Slade, before getting the nod to take over Todd Kelly’s seat at Nissan Motorsport in 2018.

Upon scoring a career-first race win at The Bend in 2021, the New Zealander admitted he was on the verge of giving up on a Supercars career in 2017.

Now, he is about to bring up a century of Supercars Championship events, back at BJR.

“A hundred rounds is pretty epic,” said Heimgartner ahead of this weekend’s Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint.

“I would never have thought that back when I was watching the Supercars at Pukekohe in New Zealand.

“It’s something with these milestones where you have to sit back and have a look. I didn’t think I’d be here, living on the Gold Coast, doing my dream job, especially when I was going in and out, I was with LDM, and it wasn’t quite going to plan.

“I almost quit if it wasn’t for that Gold Coast race, so it’s really cool, I guess it gives you a warm feeling in your heart.”

Despite sitting eighth in the championship, Heimgartner’s season to date in the R&J Batteries Camaro, much like his career, has had its ups and downs.

Heimgartner scored a podium at Albert Park

Heimgartner scored a podium at Albert Park

He expects that fluctuating form will be felt by the whole field during this, the first year of Gen3.

“The start of the year for me hasn’t been that strong personally, but we’ve just been slightly stronger than everyone else who’s been up and down as well,” remarked Heimgartner.

“I think, coming into this year, we saw it as an opportunity, as many did, to try and close that gap to Triple Eight, Tickford… all those guys, which it seems like it’s sort of done, which is cool, mixed it up a lot.

“We definitely need to be challenging in that top five, and that’s where we’re aiming, and you never know what’s going to happen.

“Some people that are strong now, they may fade off towards the end of the year as other teams come on.

“The learning curve’s going to be so big that I think you will see different teams being dominant at different tracks, different times.

“It’ll be interesting.”

Support categories are on track today before the Supercars Championship field heads out for practice tomorrow morning from 09:00 local time/AEST.

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