'Lots of reasons' behind Kelly Grove exit: Heimgartner

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 09/09/2021
  • By James Pavey

Andre Heimgartner has reiterated there were “lots of reasons” behind the decision to part ways with Kelly Grove Racing.

The 2022 silly season witnessed its biggest twist earlier this week when Heimgartner’s departure was confirmed by the team.

The New Zealander had been in the Braeside team’s camp since 2018, and won a race at The Bend Motorsport Park in May.

Shortly after Heimgartner’s exit was made public, the team confirmed it had signed Kiwi teen Matthew Payne to its junior program.

While Payne has little experience in Supercars, the door is ajar to the teenager to make a sensational rise to the main game.

According to Heimgartner, the decision to move on from Braeside wasn’t centred on one key reason.

“There's lots of reasons on both sides,” he said on the Eseries broadcast on Wednesday.

“We both decided that it was time to move on to some other things.

“I've been at a team a long time - I'd seen a lot of things and the last few rounds I haven't particularly enjoyed.”

Heimgartner has been linked to a number of teams, including Brad Jones Racing and Tickford Racing, for a 2022 drive.

The 171-race veteran also revealed a change of scenery motivated his departure.

“I want to move to the Gold Coast, I’m over living in Melbourne, so that's part of as well and a few other things,” he said.

“Both of us agree that it was probably the best thing and it's just one of those things, I guess.

"You can’t keep the band together forever.”

Heimgartner was seventh overall after the OTR SuperSprint, but inconsistency at the Darwin and Townsville events has seen him drop to 12th.

The 26-year-old was adamant the team needs to find ‘one percents’ should it be competitive at every event.

“For whatever reason if the track suits me and the car goes right, you are basically unbeatable in the right situation, like a lot of drivers are,” he explained.

"At Tailem Bend when we were on pole, and won the race by eight, nine seconds.

"You need to do that week in and week out, and we need to work on that.

"There's so many things that come into that it's a different track layouts, suits different cars.

"And when you have the car, and you have a good car at every round, you’re not driving as hard, you're not trying as hard and you're not making as many mistakes.

"You can think about extra little one percents, I guess.

"At The Bend, you could really nail in on those one percent’s a bit more, and that's what makes the difference when you're right up the top there."

Regardless, Heimgartner was pleased to see more Kiwi talent potentially in the frame for a Supercars career in the form of Payne.

Earlier this year, Payne trailed Shane van Gisbergen and Heimgartner in a thrilling New Zealand Grand Prix.

"They look like they're going for a young driver, which is really cool," Heimgartner said of the Grove Junior team.

"It’s really cool to see a young New Zealand driver, hopefully that's going to be the case for young Matt Payne.

"It's really exciting as far as that goes, and for me just a new opportunity, change is as good as a holiday sometimes."

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