Heimgartner, Ross & Williams win V8 opener
The first of three combined V8 races at the Metalman United V8 Spectacular has seen Andre Heimgartner prevail over Simon Evans, sealing his first NZ SuperTourer class win.
The long awaited race which saw the NZ SuperTourers line up alongside the TLX and TL NZ V8 Touring cars featured a staggered grid, Heimgartner leading the field having qualified his Super Black Racing Holden Commodore on pole position earlier in the day.
As Heimgartner lead the twenty car field into turn one, further behind TLX pole sitter Jason Bargwanna struck trouble just moments into the race. Bargwanna made heavy contact with Gene Rollinson through the fast right handed turn one causing a puncture on the NZV8 series leading Toyota Camry.
“Obviously we qualified really well, so the strategy for the opening lap was to avoid the SuperTourer guys up the front” Bargwanna said.
“[Gene] went a little bit wide at turn one so I went down the inside of him and he just came straight back in front of me. His right front crashed into my left rear which broke the rear wheel, so we drove around, pitted and ended up last.”
Bargwanna wasn’t the only driver to strike dramas as TL competitor Brad Lathrope was forced on just the first lap with a broken driveshaft.
“Everything was going quite well, but coming out of turn six and into the hairpin Bargwanna was all over the show” Lathrope said.
“Kevin, Steve Taylor and I ducked on the inside and as I came out of the hairpin and pulled second gear and the driveshaft decided to let go.”
After Bargwanna’s misfortune, Nick Ross took the lead of the TLX class ahead of James McLaughlin and Lance Hughes.
Halfway through the fifteen lap opener a new challenge not often seen in NZ SuperTourer races appeared as leader Heimgartner began to lap the slower cars.
“It added another element to the race having to deal with lap traffic, but it’s not too bad if you assume they haven’t seen you coming” said race winner Heimgartner.
“It wasn’t too bad, but I can imagine it could have changed the race result in a few races depending on when you catch the traffic at the right or the wrong time.”
However the lapped traffic would not change the complexion of the race as Heimgartner continued to extend his lead over both Evans and a distant D’Alberto in second and third respectively. Heimgartner ultimately finished the first race with a comfortable two and a half second lead.
“We managed to drive away from Simon, but it was an interesting race with all the category’s coming together,” Heimgartner said.
“It’s interesting but of course it’s still early days and there’s quite a lot still to play out. I think it’s a step in the right direction, I guess the start of a new era so it’s pretty exciting.
“It’s good to get that first win off my back (...) hopefully we can do the same in the next two races.”
Nick Ross continued to make inroads on Jason Bargwanna’s series lead. Ross crossing the line to win with a fifteen second lead over young James McLaughlin with Lance Hughes a further seven seconds adrift. Kevin Williams continued to stamp his mark extending his unassailable lead in the series taking victory over Brock Cooley and Steve Taylor.
The racing continues tomorrow at Pukekohe Park Raceway where Heimgartner will look to continue his good run of form.