Hino Hot Track: Pukekohe with Heimgartner

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 01/11/2018
  • By Supercars.com

With the PIRTEK Enduro Cup done and dusted for 2018, Supercars shifts back to single-driver races, and crosses the Tasman Sea for the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.

Pukekohe Park Raceway is the venue for the year's penultimate event, located just south of Auckland.

It was Supercars' first international points-paying race back in 2001, and is this weekend hosting its 13th event, having rejoined the calendar in '13 after a brief hiatus.

Fast, commitment-rewarding and bumpy, the 2.91km layout has an average speed of 166km/h, behind only Bathurst, Phillip Island and Symmons Plains on the schedule.

Your guide to the circuit is one of the five New Zealanders in the field, Plus Fitness Racing's Andre Heimgartner.

The driving challenge

It's a very unique track. With the extension at the back introduced a few years ago, it's made it a bit different again.

You have to be very committed to get a good lap and you have to be pretty precise.

There's a few key areas you need to work on to really make the lap happen and it's quite a lot more difficult than you'd think.

It's got different parts and styles of corners as well, a lot of high-speed and a lot of low-speed.

It has a good mix of everything, it's always quite bumpy and it's interesting and creates good racing.

Sometimes you see some big shunts, which is interesting.

The run through Turn 1 and up over the hill's probably my favourite part, the two high-speed corners.

It's something you don't really get anywhere else. It's really bumpy and raw.

That whole, fast run towards the front straight is really narrow as well, so it's easy to get it wrong and end up in one of the fences.

The engineering challenge

Stability's the main thing you're really looking for from your car, which is hopefully nice and balanced.

There's a lot of long and loaded corners, especially onto the back straight, which is an important one.

Rear stability's important as well up and over the hill.

That's probably the main thing you try to look for, but then again if it's too stable and you have push it's probably not ideal.

It's important to be precise and to do that you need to have a good car balance.

Having it a little bit off affects you so much over the hill, through Turn 1 and onto that back straight.

And then your braking into the back chicane is very long and loaded as well.

You need a comfortable car under brakes so you've got opportunities to pass people.

My Pukekohe memories

I used to go there with my dad and my sister and watch people like Greg Murphy, Mark Skaife and my team-mate Rick Kelly even, when I was only a young boy.

There's a few more of us Kiwi drivers now but definitely back in the day Murph was the man.

To be there on the other side of the fence these days is always pretty special, this weekend is my third time there in a Supercar.

I've raced there in other classes as well with Formula Ford, Formula Vee, SuperTourers and a lot of club-day stuff.

It's a pretty special place.

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