Heimgartner replaces injured Walsh for Gold Coast

  • 16/10/2017
  • By Mitchell Adam
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Andre Heimgartner will replace Ash Walsh as Tim Slade’s co-driver for this weekend’s final leg of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup on the Gold Coast.

Walsh was injured in a high-speed crash in a prototype sportscar at Phillip Island in the week before the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

He tried to contest the event but only turned a handful of laps during practice on Thursday - a program limited by Slade’s accident in the opening session - with subsequent scans revealing four fractured ribs.

Brad Jones Racing had placed Carrera Cup racer Heimgartner on standby, and called the Kiwi up on Friday morning to take over the co-driving duties.

With Walsh now ruled out of the Vodafone Gold Coast 600, Heimgartner will again fill the seat.

“It’s heartbreaking to miss out on these races with Sladey,” Walsh said.

“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.”

Slade and Heimgartner finished ninth at Bathurst, despite Slade ‘cooking’ late in the race.

Heimgartner raced full-time in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in 2015 and ’16 with Super Black Racing and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, but missed out on a co-driver role this year.

He has instead been racing in the Carrera Cup Australia, sitting second in points ahead of the Gold Coast finale, which he'll contest alongside his Supercars duties. 

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Ex-Williams F1 team manager Peter Vale will start with BJR on the Gold Coast, taking over from the outgoing Chris Clark.

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