Confirmed: André Heimgartner scores Ford Mustang for Supercars campaign
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After a curious waiting period it's been announced that Kiwi André Heimgartner will compete in Kelly Racing's second entry alongside Rick Kelly, as the team shifts from a four-car outfit of Nissan Altimas to a two-car Ford Mustang squad with factory backing. It's the 24-year-old's first multi-year deal in Supercars, after having made his full-time debut 2015.
“Kelly Racing backed me to return to Supercars, and it’s fantastic to lock down the future and continue this journey together,” said Heimgartner.
“It was always my preference to stick by the team that has supported me and the opportunities for next year are really the icing on the cake. The change to the Ford Mustang for next year, and working with Ford Performance, has everyone in the team excited, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.
“That said, I have an important job to finish off this season on a high after a challenging couple of events, and with our recent pace, feel we can be in a strong position at both Sandown and Newcastle.”
Heimgartner has been very impressive this season, having scored his first solo podium at Phillip Island early in the season. He's spent most of the year as the team's leading Nissan in the championship standings, although recent DNFs at Bathurst and the Gold Coast have dropped him behind Kelly.
The late Bathurst DNF was particularly sore, given that Heimgartner and co-driver Bryce Fullwood were front-runners for much of the race with a high likelihood of a top-five finish.
The decision to retain Heimgartner comes at the expense of Kelly Racing's other two drivers — Simona De Silvestro and Garry Jacobson. It's expected that De Silvestro will focus on her ABB Formula E commitments next year as a test driver for Porsche. Jacobson meanwhile, following a solid rookie season with the Kelly Racing squad, now enters a choppy driver market.
While Heimgartner's confirmation fills in at least one blank, there are plenty of other seats still to be locked in. The second spot within the new Sydney and Tekno-based team, the second Irwin Racing spot, both Matt Stone Racing spots, and probable vacant seats at Tickford Racing and Walkinshaw Andretti United are among those still to be decided.