HEIMGARTNER OPENS UP ON HORROR CRASH, AFTERMATH

Andre Heimgartner was helped from the crash scene. Pic: Supercars

BRAD Jones Racing spearhead Andre Heimgartner has offered an insight into the Tailem Bend crash which forced him to hospital and into an ongoing recovery.

It’s now known that his car, BJR 012, will never race again after smashing into the stalled Castrol Mustang of Thomas Randle in the opening seconds of Race 22 of the Repco Supercars Championship.

For Heimgartner, it was a rapid sequence of events that has kept him up at night since.

With the two cars directly ahead of him taking differing courses of avoiding action – Mark Winterbottom swerved to Randle’s right and Lee Holdsworth to the left – Heimgartner was left unsighted until it was too late.

“You always look back on an incident like that and wonder what you could have done different, and why did I have to be in that part of the track?” he told V8 Sleuth.

“Why couldn’t I have been a metre to the left or a couple of metres to the right, or why the car in front of you couldn’t have been more over to the left or right so you could actually see the (Randle) car?

“I have thought long and hard about it but I think it is just one of those things.

“Motorsport is a dangerous game and every time we hop in the car we know there’s a chance something like this can happen. Unfortunately it just takes a scenario of little events to line up for you to have a big accident like this.

The #8 R&J Batteries ZB Commodore moments after impact. Pic: Supercars

“We have seen it before, obviously we saw it on the weekend, and no doubt even though we are doing our best to improve the procedures and improve the way that we’re warned about these things as drivers, it will no doubt happen again.

“It just happened so fast. The next thing I knew, I was facing the other way and I couldn’t breathe.”

Breathing difficulties continued to impact the 27-year-old for the next 24 hours and while still not 100 percent, he’s noticing day-on-day improvement in his condition.

“It’s a bit of a slow process as anyone who has had a big crash like that knows,” said Heimgartner.

“It sort of rocks your brain, your body, your internals, your mind, everything.

“Even just trying to go to sleep at night is a bit of a battle sometimes because your brain can’t stop thinking about it, but I’m sure as time goes on it will get easier and easier.

“Initially it was just not being able to breathe properly which was the main concern.

“I had a lot of pain in a lot of other areas in my body but mainly the one that was of concern was not being able to breathe fully and having a pain in my chest basically for the whole first day.”

Andre Heimgartner. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

Despite having to monitor concussion symptoms, the Kiwi is certain he’ll be good to go for the Sandown SuperSprint on August 19-21.

“I think I have been pretty lucky with the incident and the concussion signs are pretty mild,” he said.

“Just talking to some specialists and stuff, I think it’s not too bad, which is always good. I think the recovery from that side of it and cognitively will be right up there, so it should be fine come Sandown.”

Having dropped into the midfield on one-lap pace at The Bend, Heimgartner is determined to get straight back to the sort of level which had him in podium contention at Perth, Winton, Darwin and Townsville.

“If we can hit the ground running again and be in the top 10 or end up back fighting at the top and being really competitive, I think that’s really where we need to hit off at Sandown to get everyone’s confidence back, get my confidence back, get the team going, and to put us in the right stead come Bathurst,” he said.

Despite taking no points from the Sunday leg of The Bend SuperSprint, Heimgartner holds ninth in the championship.

Connor O’Brien joined V8 Sleuth in 2022 as website Editor. He won the Supercars Media Award in 2017 while working as a sports reporter at the Gold Coast Bulletin, before stints at as a journalist at Supercars.com and editor of Speedcafe.com.