After stepping up to the co-driver role at Bathurst, Andre Heimgartner will return to the Freightliner Racing squad to replace the injured Ash Walsh in the final round of the Pirtek Endurance Cup – the Vodafone Gold Coast 600.
Walsh, who suffered 4 fractured ribs in a nasty accident at Phillip Island last month, was eager to re-join the team at the Gold Coast after missing out on the biggest race of the year, Bathurst. The injuries Ash sustained have proved too difficult for him to continue in the co-driver role, which as a racer at heart, leaves him bitterly disappointed.
Andre was only able to complete 15 practice laps in the Freightliner Racing Commodore before stepping up to the challenging 1000-kilometre race last Sunday. He did an impressive job, with consistently fast times in the tricky wet conditions.
For Andre, a full-time Supercars driver in 2015 & 2016, the biggest adjustment was adapting to the different controls and getting as comfortable as possible in the Freightliner Racing Commodore.
Heimgartner, who was on double duties Bathurst weekend, winning the Porsche Carrera Cup round, will again be on double duties this weekend, as the Porsche series have their final round here at the Gold Coast. Heimgartner is currently sitting in second place in the Porsche Carrera Cup Championship.
The Bathurst result of 9th was Andre’s 4th top ten result in Supercars, and his best GC600 race finish was 13th in 2016, driving with Aaren Russell for LDM. This weekend will be Andre’s 29th Supercars Championship round.
Walsh said “It’s heartbreaking to miss out on these races with Sladey. It’s not only a lot of fun, but the car has plenty of potential, so you always wish you were in there driving and gunning to win.”
“The team have done a great job in looking after me and trying to get me back on track. They facilitated a lot of things to assist with my recovery, but unfortunately the ribs are a really difficult one to bounce back from.”
“I will be spending the weekend with the guys and girls at Freightliner Racing to cheer on Tim and Andre, and the whole team as much as I can. Plus, while I’ve got the chance I’d like to thank everyone who has sent through messages of support and well wishes. It’s been really awesome.”
Heimgartner added “After having such a good experience with Brad Jones Racing at Bathurst, I am ecstatic to have this call-up to race with the team on the Gold Coast this weekend,”
“Despite the fact that my Bathurst drive with them was last-minute and Friday morning especially was a bit rushed as a result, I felt instantly comfortable with the team and they made me feel very welcome all weekend long with a friendly atmosphere which I really enjoyed.
“To get the call-up again for this weekend is an opportunity I wasn’t expecting, but which I am very grateful for. It is going to be another busy weekend, but one which I am very much looking forward to.
“Of course, I want to wish Ash Walsh a speedy recovery – I can’t imagine what he is going through at the moment and the last thing you want to do is take a seat away from someone, especially in this circumstance. Hopefully we will be able to see Ash in good health and back behind the wheel soon.”
Published: 16 October 2017.