Andre Heimgartner set to be fifth Kiwi on Supercars grid
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It looks likely New Zealand will boast five drivers on the Supercars grid in 2018 with Andre Heimgartner nearing a deal with Nissan.
The 22-year-old has driven fulltime in the series previously but with the low budget and uncompetitive Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport operation.
But a move to the factory-supported Nissan Racing as a replacement for Todd Kelly would be a massive coup for the Kiwi where he would join compatriots 2016 champ Shane van Gisbergen, 2017 series runner-up Scott McLaughlin, race winner Fabian Coulthard and the soon-to-be-announced Richie Stanaway at Prodrive Racing.
Heimgartner, who will race in the BNT V8s in the New Zealand Summer Series round at Taupo Motorsport Park this weekend, admitted he has spoken to a few teams about a drive next year.
"It is looking hopeful," he told The Herald. "We have been talking to a few teams and obviously after the Gold Coast race, where I was able to do really well, it has helped my chances and put up my stocks.
"I wasn't planning on getting back to Supercars in the near future but if the right opportunity presents itself I would love to. In the right car and the right team would be amazing.
"Fingers crossed in the next week or so we should know if we are or not."
But the Nissan Motorsport deal looks the most likely. Veteran driver Todd Kelly announced his retirement from the sport in the lead-in to last week's season finale in Newcastle.
The team has Rick Kelly, Michael Caruso and Simona de Silvestro currently under contract with Heimgartner the front-runner for the fourth car.
He admits that spot will be his best chance of securing a fulltime drive.
"They are one of the best teams and obviously being associated with such a massive brand would be good as well," Heimgartner said.
"That would be the pick of the lot.
"We still have to sort a few things out first and hopefully we are able to pick up something in the next week or so."
Should the Nissan deal fall over there are other options for Heimgartner but he has his hopes set on the Japanese manufacturer.
"A couple but none as good as that," he said of his options. "If that doesn't come up we would look at some overseas stuff – Carrera Cup again or DVS – it is all up in the air at the minute.
"Right now Supercars is the main focus but you would imagine it could open up some doors overseas with Nissan and their GT program, which would be good."