Super Black Racing, the only New Zealand team in the V8 Supercar Championship (V8SC), has today proven they can challenge the front runners with their 19 year old driver, Andre Heimgartner, finishing 8th in the final race of the weekend after qualifying in 7th.
“I’m am so stoked with the result. It was a challenging and long race but I learnt a hell of a lot and couldn’t have asked for a better race really,” said an excited Heimgartner.
“The FG X is a lot more stable in the rear which gave me the confidence to push it, so a huge thanks to the guys who gave me an awesome car this weekend. But it was obviously good for the team to get our first top 10 finish and I can’t wait for the next round to get stuck into it again.”
It was a race of firsts for Heimgartner, with the round being the first time the youngster had raced the new Prodrive Racing FG X, the first time he had ever competed at the Symmons Plains raceway, and the first time he had ever competed on soft tyres, making the top result even more significant.
It was definitely a strong weekend for V8SC rookie Heimgartner, who also qualified as high up as 5th for on Saturday’s race, which Super Black Racing team principal Paul Radisich says is an incredible feat.
Radisich said: “Andre [Heimgartner] is a great young talent and for him to finish in eighth today after never driving the track before the practice on Friday is just fantastic.
“The team is very happy with how everything went this weekend in terms of where we finished, the progress we’ve made with the FG X and how Andre [Heimgartner] has developed as a driver. We had a plan but I think Andre [Heimgartner] has proven today why he is the team’s first driver.”
The two races on Saturday also saw Heimgartner, originally from Auckland, qualify in 11th and a career-best 5th position, before finishing in 11th and 25th in the two races.
The next round in the V8SC calendar is the Perth Supersprint, set to be held on the 1st to 3rd of May at Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia.
Qualifying – Race 4: 11th
Result – Race 4: 11th
Qualifying – Race 5: 5th
Result – Race 5: 25th
Qualifying – Race 6: 7th
Result – Race 6: 8th
DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1) Jamie Whincup – 483
2) James Courtney – 464
3) Craig Lowndes – 460
4) Garth Tander – 457
5) Shane Van Gisbergen – 456
6) Mark Winterbottom – 433
8) David Reynolds – 303
10) Chaz Mostert – 296
14) Andre Heimgartner – 223
New Zealand’s only dedicated V8 Supercar (V8SC) team, Super Black Racing, proved that they have the pace to sit near, if not in, the Top 10 following an impressive performance by their 19 year-old driver Andre Heimgartner at the Formula 1 Grand Prix event in Melbourne held over the weekend.
Heimgartner, originally from Auckland, sat as high as ninth during the final race and even had the eighth fastest time in the third race held yesterday, proving he is getting faster and will be a rookie to watch this season.
Heimgartner said: “Yeah it was a pretty ballsy race [race 4] but I was sick of being at the back and thought I’d give getting to the front a good crack. Although it didn’t quite work out the way I wanted it to, I’m still pretty happy with how everything went overall.
“And roll on the [Prodrive Racing Ford Falcon] FG X at the next round. I can’t wait to get into that machine to see how it goes.”
While the round was not a V8SC championship point scoring round, it was a good opportunity for Super Black Racing and Heimgartner to continue building on the pace they showed at the Clipsal 500 event in Adelaide two weeks ago.
It was also the last round for the Ford Falcon FG with Heimgartner set to have the new Prodrive Racing built Ford Falcon FG X at the next round in Tasmania, in little under two weeks time.
Super Black Racing team principal, Paul Radisich, said: “It was great to see Andre [Heimgartner] and the Super Black car break into the early teens and mix it up with fellow yet fast Kiwis McLaughlin and Coulthard during that last race as it shows we have the potential.
“We’re looking forward to getting the new FG X which we’ll be running for the first time in Tassy [Tasmania, round 3]. It was certainly an impressive end to the weekend and we [Super Black Racing] are very pleased with the result.”
The other Prodrive Racing drivers, Mark Winterbottom, Chaz Mostert and Dave Reynolds, enjoyed considerable success this weekend in the new FG X with Winterbottom and Mostert locking out 1st and 2nd respectively throughout all of the four races.
Heimgartner originally finished the final race in 14th but was relegated to 18th after the finish, following a 10 second penalty set by V8SC race officials for jumping the start.
Super Black Racing’s championship debut race weekend ended in heartbreak as mechanical failure cost the team a top 20 finish in the final race of the weekend with Andre Heimgartner eventually finishing in 21st.
Lap 20 saw the front roll bar fail causing the Prodrive Racing Ford Falcon FG’s handling to be adversely affected and pushing Heimgartner further down the leaderboard as the race continued.
However, the team claims a small victory as they reached their goal of finishing every race over the weekend in front of the 285,600 strong crowd while Heimgartner scored valuable championship points to carry forward.
Heimgartner (19) also proved he had pace today, particularly during the qualifying session, by setting times less than a second behind the top runners.
Only one second separated the top 24 during the final qualifying session today, including Heimgartner who set a top time of 1:20.9, only 0.8 of a second off original pole sitter and compatriot Shane van Gisbergen.
Heimgartner now has 82 points in the drivers championship before heading to the next round in two weeks time, at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, although no championship points will be scored.
Andre Heimgartner – #111
Race 3 result: 23
“Unfortunately we had the pace but the front roll bar broke 20 laps in so were struggling from then. Then the trans axel broke too so it’s disappointing but it’s just the way it is. I’m glad we got some points in the end which is important for the championship.”
Paul Radisich – Team principal
“The team did a great job to get us to the finish today despite some mechanical issues. It was a real character building day for the whole team but we have a list of positives to take away from this weekend. We managed to score points in every race and come home with a straight car which is exactly what we set out to do this weekend. Now we’re looking forward to getting some more mileage under Andre’s belt at the Grand Prix.”