Learning curve for Heimgartner
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New Zealand's youngest Supercars Championship competitor, Andre Heimgartner, has spent much of his second year in the series soul-searching.
After finding his feet in Ford's Prodrive Racing team, the carpet was swept out from beneath him - leaving him fighting at the back of the pack this season.
Heimgartner, 21, moved to Holden outfit Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport. He told Driven his year with the team has been tough.
"It's frustrating, obviously I've got a different attitude to when I was at Prodrive last year," said Heimgartner.
"It's a lot different, unfortunately I would've liked to have done this year, last year and just learnt, and then been in a good car this year."
Heimgartner said the challenges he has faced this year were a struggle to get through, with the knowledge that he is quicker than last year. However, without the support of a 50-plus crew, he has found himself learning more about the team, and the functions of the Supercars Championship.
"This year's been frustrating, because I know I'm a lot better than last year. But I'm not able to show it, so it's definitely frustrating being in a little team that doesn't have a big budget.
"You can only go so far, but it's one of those things: everyone has to take a step back sometimes to go forward.
"I've learnt a lot this year about things outside of driving, and to do with the team, and that sort of stuff. So I don't think it's been a negative thing."
Heimgartner's teammate, former Bathurst 1000 winner Nick Percat, won at the season opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide. With one win in hand, Percat sits 19th in the standings, while Heimgartner languishes in 25th.
A top-10 race finish is still on the agenda for the youngster this season. With a third season in the Supercars Championship only a matter of months away, and with a number of offers on the table, he's hopeful a deal can be finalised soon.
"Staying with Lucas Dumbrell is definitely an option. There's a few other seats lying around, and still a fair bit to move. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."
"You'd like to secure a three-year deal ideally somewhere, and just go with that. Every year having to worry about it is pretty frustrating, and obviously you're driving different cars. It's frustrating and it's annoying, but at the end of the day it is what it is, and you just have to deal with it."
The final round of the 2016 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship takes place at Sydney's Olympic Park, where Heimgartner will be hoping he can end his year on a high.