Drivers head far and wide in weekend off

  • 12/03/2018
  • By Mitchell Adam
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Supercars drivers travelled to three different continents last weekend, following the 2018 season opener in Adelaide.

Tickford Racing pair Mark Winterbottom and Cameron Waters went furthest afield to South and North America respectively, Andre Heimgartner won New Zealand’s BNT V8s Championship, Shane van Gisbergen went drifting and David Reynolds raced a historic Mustang at Phillip Island.

Winterbottom returned to the Stock Car Brasil Championship and Interlagos, for its annual, two-driver season opener.

The 2015 Supercars champion shared a Shell Chev with local Atila Abreu, the pair 11th, fourth and sixth in the three practice sessions.

Winterbottom and co-driver Abreu Winterbottom and co-driver Abreu

A fuel-pump problem in qualifying sentenced Winterbottom and Abreu to the back of the field, but they worked their way through to 12th, which became 11th due to a post-race penalty ahead.

“We went from Position 33 to Position 12 in a shortened race due to weather,” Winterbottom said.

“Happy with the result but disappointed we didn't make qualifying as I feel we could have won from a better starting position.

“All in all a fun weekend and learnt a lot.”

Waters attended The Mint 400 off-road race in the Las Vegas desert with sponsor Monster.

The 23-year-old co-drove a Truck in the US event’s 50th edition, reaching the finish line 19th in class.

Closer to home, Heimgartner converted his points lead over team-mate and former Supercars regular Jason Bargwanna into a maiden title in the Hampton Downs finale.

Second to Bargwanna in the opener meant Toyota driver Heimgartner only had to finish in the top five in Sunday’s two races, which he managed with fourth in Race 2.

Bargwanna won that, too, but penalties for a pair of clashes sent him down the order, sealing the title for Heimgartner in his homeland.

Fourth in the final race - won by Brad Jones Racing’s Dunlop Super2 Series driver Jack Smith - meant Heimgartner finished 73 points clear of Bargwanna

“To say I am happy with that result is an understatement, we went out there and did what we had to do, and brought home the championship,” Nissan Motorsport Supercars driver Heimgartner said.

“Going into the final race of the weekend knowing that the title was secure was a relief, but with a fourth position we would have been okay either way which is good to know as well.

“The BNT V8s is a great championship to have under my belt, and I can’t wait to come back and do some more racing here in New Zealand next season.”

Over at Timaru, van Gisbergen continued his return to competitive drifting in the D1NZ National Drifting Championship.

Driving a V8-powered Nissan 370Z, the 2016 Supercars champion reached the top eight before being eliminated.

Barry Sheene Medalist Reynolds jumped behind the wheel of a Group N Mustang again in the Phillip Island Classic’s over-three-litre Historic Touring Car races.

Reynolds qualified second, and took a victory and three second-place finishes before failing to finish the final.

The quartet will be back in action for the maiden Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 at the Australian Grand Prix on March 22-25.

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