Motorsport: Young gun firing all cylinders

By Eric Thompson

Andre Heimgartner of Team BRM. Photo / Supplied
Andre Heimgartner of Team BRM. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand has another rising star in motorsport with Auckland teenager Andre Heimgartner racing in Australia in the Carrera Cup.

The races are an international young driver programme organised by Porsche Motorsport an despite being a rookie, Heimgartner has been at the front of the pack most of the season.

He's been up against the likes of Craig Baird (regarded as one of the best Porsche drivers in the world), Alex Davison and Steven Richards (former V8 Supercars drivers) and fellow Kiwis Jonny Reid and Daniel Gaunt.

With one round to go the young New Zealander sits sixth on the table.

The 17-year-old St Kentigern college student was offered the chance to campaign the Team Kiwi Racing Porsche 997 earlier this year and hasn't looked back. Heimgartner was racing in the support class for the V8 Supercars last weekend on the Gold Coast where his two fifths and a fourth were enough for Porsche Cars Australia to believed he would best represent the Australasian region.

Heimgartner will travel to Italy for this weekend's test programme, joining a number of other young drivers from around the world who also contest an opportunity to win the partly funded Porsche drive in the 2013 Supercup series.

The young drivers will compete under identical racetrack conditions to showcase their abilities to turn in fast laps coupled with an understanding on how a car works, and being able to find and explain a good working setup for the 335kW Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

"I'm really honoured to win the award. I'll do my best to represent Carrera Cup Australia and Team Kiwi Racing," said Heimgartner.

"Since the phone call from TKR boss David John earlier this year things have just gotten better and better.

"The chance to race in Australia in the TKR Porsche was a big step - a dream come true.

"It has been a big year of racing for me, competing in two series - Carrera Cup Australia and V8 SuperTourers - but I've manage to adapt to all the tracks that we've come to.

"I've gone from having a collection of die cast TKR models on my desk featuring well-known drivers like Jason Richards, Angus Fogg, John McIntyre, Craig Baird, Paul Radisich and Shane van Gisbergen to actually racing the real thing.

"And thanks to the team and our results the next die cast model will be of the TKR Porsche - with my name on it."

Looking to gain every advantage for his big adventure in Italy, Heimgartner had a chat to newly crowned 2012 Porsche City Index Carrera Cup Australia champion and well regarded Kiwi racer Baird, who knows a thing or two about racing Porsches.

"I was talking to Craig Baird and he said you've got to give it 100 per cent, but try to be as consistent as you can. He just won the championship, so I guess he knows what he's talking about," said Heimgartner.

Team Kiwi Racing's David John has a habit of spotting young Kiwi racing talent and Heimgartner may just prove to be another he's given a chance to.

"When I offered Andre the opportunity early this season to race the TKR Porsche in Australia it was with the view it would give him the international experience and exposure needed to make a fulltime career of racing, just as we have provided a number of Kiwi drivers with similar opportunities over the years," said John.

"His consistent performance right from the first round proved that as a team we could have a successful season.

"The Porsche Cars Australia nomination is the icing on the cake and great recognition that all the hard work put in by the team's supporters, sponsors and TKR staff and crew is worth it."

Heimgartner has been the youngest competitor in the field and continually performed well beyond his years.

During the season he did better at the new tracks than many others with a lot more experience. This next step, though, will be a very big test.

Heimgartner will be going against Carrera Cup representatives from Great Britain, France, Asia, Japan, Scandinavia and Italy all vying for the chance to race the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the 2013 Mobil 1 Supercup series as a support category for Formula One.

- NZ Herald

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