Supercars: Ford’s Heimgartner wins first career race in thriller at The Bend

Kiwi Andre Heimgartner has broken Ford’s winless drought by claiming his first career victory at The Bend in South Australia today.

Starting from pole for just the second time in his 161-race career, the 25-year-old was peerless with regards to pace in both wet and dry conditions today, guiding his Mustang to Ford’s first win since September 2020.

The victory made Heimgartner the 81st driver in history to win a Supercars/Australian Touring Car Championship Race. It was his best ever result following two previous 2nd placings and two 3rd placings.

Andre Heimgartner wins his first Supercars race at the OTR SuperSprint The Bend. Event 4 of the Repco Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, Australia. 8 May 2021

The win also marked the first win for the Kelly Grove partnership, and the first win by a Kelly-prepared car since Winton 2018.

The Kiwi didn’t make it easy for himself; Heimgartner was served a time penalty for a pit lane infringement where he collided with Jamie Whincup.

But he opened up a big enough lead for the penalty to be pointless, meaning he drove freely to his memorable career win, his first since his debut at Bathurst in 2014.

“It was awesome,” Heimgartner said.

“I’m just really, really over the moon. It’s been way too long – I think it has been six years so I’m just over the moon. I’ve finally got it off my back.”

On the penalty, Heimgartner explained, “They never told me; I knew.

“When we had contact I was like, ‘Oh geez, that just made it a lot harder for myself,’ and I knew I had to get five seconds.

“On the last lap it was 4.5s [spare] so I just knew but they didn’t tell me.”

The victory is win number 399 for the Blue Oval in the history of Supercars.

Heimgartner (C) celebrates

Behind Heimgartner on the podium today was Walkinshaw’s Chaz Mostert and fellow Ford driver, Shell V-Power’s Anton De Pasquale.

Championship leader Shane van Gisbergen finished seventh, behind Red Bull teammate Jamie Whincup.

Having soared to third from eighth on the opening lap, van Gisbergen dropped down the order after a drama in his pit stop.

Van Gisbergen lost nearly 10 seconds as a pit crew member struggled to reach the car with the air spike coupling.

His Championship lead over Whincup is now 140 points, after van Gisbergen recorded the fastest lap of the race to win a bonus point.

The drive of the day went to Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat, who started last on the grid, and after rolling the dice and staying out on used tires as long as possible, ended up an admirable fourth at the end of the race.

There will be two ARMOR ALL Qualifying sessions tomorrow and two races tomorrow afternoon.