At the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last weekend, 16-year-old New Zealand driver Andre Heimgartner proved his results at the opening round of the City Index Porsche Carrera Cup were no flash in the pan.
He has finished in the top 10 in five of the six races so far.
What really made the field take notice was that Heimgartner set the fastest lap time in last weekend's third race around the Albert Park Formula One road course circuit.
He did that against drivers such as championship winners Craig Baird, Alex Davison, Jonny Reid and Daniel Gaunt, former V8 Supercars champion Mark Skaife, and former Formula One driver Heinz Harold Frentzen.
The rookie Porsche pilot dominated the 2010/11 NZ Formula Ford season, winning the Ron Frost Memorial and Morri Smith trophies with eight victories over the competition.
Heimgartner partnered Stefan Webling in the 2011 Enduro series at Hampton Downs, driving a Porsche GT3 Cup car in the last round of the championship. They were running second overall until the clutch failed and they had to retire. His form behind the Porsche did not go unnoticed and a deal was put together by a resurgent Team Kiwi Racing for the youngster to contest the City Index Porsche Carrera Cup series in Australia.
Driven grabbed a few minutes of the teenager's time on his return to New Zealand.
Driven: Congratulations on another great effort in the Carrera Cup races at the Australian Grand Prix. You must be pleased the good form from Adelaide continues?
AH: We're all pretty pleased at how things went. The more time I spend in the car, the more comfortable I feel and the harder I can push. Setting that fastest lap by half a second at Melbourne was pretty good and proves the results from Adelaide's Clipsal 500 opener weren't a fluke.
That's two rounds now, and the car seems well sorted and pretty fast. Are you pleased with how it's going?
The car's good. It's run by Todd Bickerton and Ian McNabb and they are two of the top engineers and mechanics who worked at Triple X Motorsport, who were a highly successful New Zealand Porsche team, and they know all their stuff.
Did you think you would be so far up the field so early on in the championship?
I thought I'd be up there because I've got some confidence in myself. I was hoping to be in the top 10 and I've been fortunate enough to be there and higher up at times [he's had two fourths so far]. We're quite pleased about how we're going now and finding more pace. Hopefully at the next round I'll be able to battle with the guys right at the front. You never know, though, we'll just have to see.
I have made a few changes to the way I drive the TKR car after working through the data with team engineers. That has made a significant difference to what I need to focus on.
You've only really driven a Porsche once before in anger and did pretty well. What is it about them you like?
They're great cars to drive. They're halfway between a saloon car and a single-seater. I don't really know, but the Porsche is a really nice car to drive. I did do some testing, so it wasn't too much of an ask, but I am still trying to get my head around the whole thing.
What's it been like going from a single-seater to a Porsche and then on to your V8 SuperTourer?
Fundamentally they're all the same, so it's not too different.
So what's the realistic plan for the season and where are you and the team hoping to finish?
At the moment we are sitting fourth in the championship, only three points away from third, who is Daniel Gaunt. If I can get rookie of the year, that'll be pretty good, and if I can get a top-three finish in the championship I'll be really stoked.
Heimgartner gets his next chance to grab more points at the Trading Post Perth Challenge, May 6-7.