It was Thursday when Andre Heimgartner got asked to be Ash Walsh’s standby replacement driver, and now he has a top ten finish at the biggest race of the year yesterday.
Walsh’s Bathurst 1000 start was in doubt since his Phillip Island crash the previous weekend, but after a tough three practice laps in the other Brad Jones Racing Holden, as the Freightliner entry got damaged before Walsh could jump in.
The co-driver ruled himself out on Friday morning when he had a sleepless and painful night, this threw Heimgartner in the deep end and did what was asked of him.
Slade drove the car from 18th on the grid to inside the top ten before handing it to Heimgartner for his two stints. The Kiwi got to as high as 2nd before handing it back to Slade.
The heat exhaustions got to Slade before the end of the race as he had to hop out due to the lack of cool air in the helmet. Heimgartner ended up finishing the race for the BJR team.
“It has been a good day overall – first to get the great result in Carrera Cup this morning with a second race win, the race lap record, and the round win. It was great to have some luck finally with a few things and it was really rewarding to get that result for Sonic and for all my sponsors,” Heimgartner said.
“In the Supercars race it was really very tricky conditions being very wet, and it was a pretty challenging first double-stint that I did. Even so, I felt pretty comfortable in the car.”
“In the last stint, I was able to push a little harder and I was feeling nice and comfortable while also pretty fast.”
“We did, unfortunately, have a lot of fog issues in that last stint, so I had to have a squeegee in the car to do the window which was pretty interesting!”
“To bring it home in ninth was good and very rewarding after a long and intense race and a weekend which started with me not even planning on racing in the 1000!”
“Normally I have a fair bit of downtime on a race weekend, but this time my head was going a million times an hour – it was draining but really rewarding, and it was a good challenge for me to get my head around everything and go from one car to the other. ”
“Thanks has to go to Brad Jones Racing for having faith in me and that I could do a good job for them and for Tim, I have really enjoyed working with the team this weekend.”
Walsh should be fit enough to race at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 in two weeks, October 20-22.