Dominant Heimgartner defies penalty for maiden career win

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 08/05/2021
  • By James Pavey

It took 161 races, but Andre Heimgartner has finally joined the winners’ list following a dominant run to victory in Race 9 at The Bend Motorsport Park.

Having scored a second career pole earlier in the day, Heimgartner was peerless with regards to pace in both wet and dry conditions.

It 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.

Chaz Mostert outdragged Heimgartner to Turn 1, but an error at Turn 5 allowed Anton De Pasquale, who forced his way past the #7 Mustang, into the lead.

However, De Pasquale’s lead lasted only a few seconds before he bowled a wide at Turn 6, allowing Heimgartner easy passage through into the lead.

Once in front, Heimgartner opened a gap by over a second per lap; after five laps, the gap between Heimgartner and Mostert had blown out to 6.2s.

WATCH: DRAMATIC FIRST LAP

At the end of lap 5, Will Davison led a gaggle of cars into the lane, with De Pasquale following van Gisbergen in on the following lap.

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.

Mostert followed Heimgartner into the lane at the end of lap 7, followed by Whincup.

WATCH: CLOSE CALL IN THE LANE

After serving his compulsory stop, Heimgartner was released into the path of Whincup as the #88 Red Bull Ampol entry transited the lane to his garage.

A five-second post-race penalty was Heimgartner’s punishment, but by the time the penalty was handed down, the gap back to Mostert was already 4.7s.

Through 14 laps, Heimgartner enjoyed a 8.2s buffer, placing a safety net on the victory.

After a qualifying nightmare, Brad Jones Racing left Todd Hazelwood and Nick Percat to go long, with the former pitting at the end of lap 15.

WATCH: BUNGLED STOP SCUPPERS SVG

Percat, who retained a competitive pace, assumed the lead of the race, with effective leader Heimgartner 27 seconds adrift.

With eight laps remaining, the gap between Heimgartner and Mostert plateaued at 8.4s, with De Pasquale five seconds behind the 2014 Bathurst winner.

Waters, having recovered from a wild moment at Turn 1 on lap 8, closed to within two seconds of the #11 Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang.

With the penalty hanging over his head, Heimgartner shot in the fastest lap of the race on lap 17, and eked the margin to Mostert to over nine seconds.

WATCH: HEIMGARTNER-WHINCUP PIT LANE RUN-IN

Van Gisbergen continued his march towards the top five following his pit stop disaster; having cleared Brodie Kostecki, Davison and James Courtney, the championship leader was six seconds adrift of teammate Whincup.

However, an off through on lap 20 saw van Gisbergen drop to ninth, behind Courtney and Davison.

BJR’s strategy ploy to leave Percat out in the changing conditions paid dividends, with the 2011 Bathurst winner emerging in front of De Pasquale and Waters for effective third.

However, on cold tyres, Percat was cleared by De Pasquale, but he managed to keep Waters at bay.

WATCH: LAST LAP OF THRILLING RACE 9

Percat launched an assault on De Pasquale once his tyres came to temperature, but missed out on the podium.

That podium was topped by Heimgartner, who nearly seven years after his championship debut, claimed his first win, and Ford’s first since September 2020.

It took Ford’s tally to 399, bringing the marque one short of 400 ATCC/Supercars Championship race wins.

Mostert took the flag 8.9s behind, with the margin adjusted to 3.9s following the application of the penalty.

WATCH: HEIMGARTNER CELEBRATES

De Pasquale held on for a third podium in four races, with Waters assuming fourth following a late error by Percat.

Whincup was 1.1s adrift in sixth, with van Gisbergen recovering to seventh.

By virtue of setting the fastest lap, van Gisbergen extended his championship lead to 140 points, with Mostert two points behind Whincup.

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return on Sunday for Race 10 qualifying at 9:40am AEST, ahead of Race 10 at 1:00pm, before the weekend ends with Race 11 at 4:10pm. Check out the full weekend schedule here.

The OTR SuperSprint will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus.

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