Don’t be fooled by 14th in the championship last year for Andre Heimgartner.
The Kiwi was one of the season’s surprise packets, leading Kelly Racing’s first season running Mustangs – and that’s no small feat when one of your teammates is 2006 champion Rick Kelly.
After years of hopping from team to team searching for a chance to stay in the sport, Heimgartner is enjoying the continuity of approaching a fourth straight year at Kelly Racing.
Heimgartner always had his sights set on Supercars, and moved from karting to Formula Vee at just 12 years old, followed by seasons in Australian Formula Ford and Carrera Cup.
Alongside an NZ V8SuperTourer Series campaign, he made his debut in the Dunlop Super2 Series in 2013, with his efforts over the next two seasons enough to catch the eye of the new Super Black Racing.
Heimgartner was signed for its Bathurst 2014 wildcard, then became the full-time driver for its maiden season, with highlights including qualifying third at Queensland Raceway and finishing seventh at Sydney Motorsport Park.
He moved to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport in 2016 and finished 25th in the championship, hampered by uncompetitive machinery.
It seemed like that grind might spell trouble for his Supercars days, with not even a co-drive forthcoming for 2017.
Having switched focus to Carrera Cup and GT racing in Asia, Brad Jones Racing co-driver Ash Walsh’s injury misfortune was just the opening Heimgartner needed.
He subbed in alongside Tim Slade for Bathurst and Gold Coast, starring in torrential Surfers Paradise conditions to secure a maiden podium and catch the eye of Kelly Racing.
Heimgartner stepped into the #7 Nissan vacated by retiring stalwart and team owner Todd Kelly in ‘18 and showed enough to be entrusted with a second season.
It’s there where he shone, taking two podiums – although a cruel PIRTEK Enduro Cup set him back in the end-of-season standings.
He stepped it up again in 2020, taking two podiums and a maiden pole at Sydney Motorsport Park.