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HomeNewsHeimgartner wins wet-weather classic at Taupō

Heimgartner wins wet-weather classic at Taupō

ANDRE Heimgartner has delivered a stunning victory on home soil for Brad Jones Racing, prevailing in a wet-weather thriller at Taupō Motorsport Park.

Heimgartner had all but written off his chances after a dreadful Albert Park last month, but mastered treacherous conditions in the first fully wet race of the Gen3 era.

Celebrating a breakthrough win with a burnout, Heimgartner’s heroics led a strong day for the Kiwi contingent with Ryan Wood, Richie Stanaway and Jaxon Evans all shining, while Dick Johnson Racing also bounced back with a double podium.

Greeted by extreme wet conditions, there was instant drama as polesitter Cam Waters and a fast-starting Tim Slade collided spectacularly just moments after the lights went out.

Trouble continued all the way down to Turn 1 where Broc Feeney and Matt Payne wound up pointing in the wrong direction, while Macauley Jones and Stanaway were forced to the grass in taking avoiding action.

With Slade’s PremiAir Camaro stricken, the Safety Car was deployed as Will Brown led from Heimgartner, Chaz Mostert, Cameron Hill and Will Davison.

Waters was able to continue after ducking into the pits for repairs, while his Tickford Racing teammate Thomas Randle was pinged with a 15-second penalty for spinning Feeney.

The race restarted on Lap 5, after which Matt Stone Racing played the strategy card by bringing Nick Percat in for the first of his two compulsory pitstops.

That backfired though when the Safety Car returned to the track, with the last-start race winner left to meander around at 80km/h while the rest of the field headed to the lane – which became the scene of a manic rush.

The cause of the second Safety Car period was Bryce Fullwood, who was spun by Jack Le Brocq and was unable to get going again due to an oil pressure problem.

It was during that pitstop rush that Heimgartner hit the lead, courtesy of some excellent work from his BJR crew to get the #8 entry out ahead of Brown.

As green flags flew once more on Lap 13, Brown initially applied pressure to Heimgartner before falling back as the championship leader battled tyre pressure woes.

In fact, both Triple Eight Camaros were going backwards fast, forcing Feeney and Brown to pit on Lap 22 and 28 respectively to try to rescue their days.

Mostert instead had taken over the role of stalking Heimgartner, and they continued in that way until pitting together on Lap 40 of 60 for their final stop.

That completed the CPS cycle, although out-of-sequence Hill, Payne and Feeney would soon pit a third time amid the persistent rain.

Heimgartner retained the lead from Mostert and Davison as the final stint begun, only for the #25 Walkinshaw Andretti United star to bow out of contention as his right-rear tyre came loose.

Mostert was forced to limp back to the pits, giving Heimgartner breathing room as he closed in on a second main game win.

Action continued throughout the field, but the order at the pointy end remained unchanged to the flag with Heimgartner hanging on from DJR duo Davison and Anton De Pasquale.

Wood was a standout fourth for WAU, with only an outlap mistake costing him a likely maiden podium.

Le Brocq was fifth ahead of Stanaway and James Golding, both of whom started outside the top 20.

Waters completed a stellar comeback to take eighth ahead of Brown, who made an ultra-long final stint work, and Evans.

Payne took the flag 13th but under investigation for late contact with David Reynolds.

Brodie Kostecki was 14th, his race affected by a 15-second penalty for spinning James Courtney.

Also sent down the order via a penalty was Percat, whose shocking Saturday had been compounded by a Safety Car speeding infringement.

A strategy miscue left Hill 20th ahead of Feeney and Mostert, while Fullwood and Slade were non-finishers.

Feeney’s struggles have allowed Brown’s championship lead to balloon to 59 points, ahead of another 200km race tomorrow.

RESULTS: Race 1, 2024 ITM Taupō Super400

18Andre HeimgartnerBJRChevrolet60 laps
217Will DavisonDJRFord+1.1012s
311Anton De PasqualeDJRFord+2.5641s
42Ryan Wood WAUFord+3.9318s
59Jack Le BrocqErebusChevrolet+21.2535s
626Richie StanawayGroveFord+23.1340s
731James Golding PremiAirChevrolet+26.3405s
86Cam WatersTickfordFord+30.5452s
987Will BrownTriple EightChevrolet+30.9350s
1012Jaxon Evans BJRChevrolet+35.5458s
1118Mark WinterbottomTeam 18Chevrolet+36.9515s
1255Thomas Randle TickfordFord+39.3165s
1319Matt PayneGroveFord+42.2476s
141Brodie KosteckiErebusChevrolet+46.8215s
153Aaron LoveBRTFord+49.1686s
1620David ReynoldsTeam 18Chevrolet+49.4887s
177James CourtneyBRTFord+57.761s
1896Macauley JonesBJRChevrolet+66.9547s
1910Nick PercatMSRChevrolet+68.585s
204Cameron Hill MSRChevrolet+68.7944s
2188Broc Feeney Triple EightChevrolet+78.2664s
2225Chaz MostertWAUFord+1 lap
2314Bryce FullwoodBJRChevroletDNF
2423Tim SladePremiAirChevroletDNF
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