ANDRE Heimgartner is impressing not just on the racetrack in his first full season at Brad Jones Racing.
The Kiwi was one of the stars of last weekend’s Auckland SuperSprint, claiming two podiums – both aided by lightning-fast tyre changes by his pit crew.
His presence has been far more wide-reaching though, as the team’s eponymous owner revealed to V8 Sleuth.
“He is a great leader,” Brad Jones said of Heimgartner.
“He fits with the team, they would follow him over the edge of a cliff I think.
“He just fits our group really well and once we got things sorted out and we got through the Grand Prix, then we have been top three a lot and it is great to see.
“It has given everyone a breath of fresh air and we’re pretty pumped.”
Since Albert Park, Heimgartner has gained 10 places in the championship to now hold eighth.
Adding to the significance of his Pukekohe success was that he had Car #8 in the mix for the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy (Richards’ last 48 Supercars Championship races came in the Brad Jones Racing #8).
Heimgartner ended up third in the round points, only behind Cameron Waters and eventual winner Shane van Gisbergen.
“I’m very proud of the job that the team did and that Andre did, the way they all worked together,” said Jones.
“Our pitstops were on point, Andre did an amazing job in the car.
“It’s a little bittersweet to be honest – we’re so close to getting that (win).
“I think if anyone was going to win it other than us, the right person is Shane, because his engineer is Andrew Edwards who was part of the family when JR was here, which is why I’m assuming Andrew was on the podium. He was really emotional.
“Once everyone had cleared out, I went straight to him and congratulated him and it was quite emotional.
“It’s the end of an era here at Puke, that’s sort of sad as well; the racing here has been fantastic and it’s just a pity that it’s the last one.”
Next up on the calendar is the Repco Bathurst 1000 on October 6-9, where BJR will be hunting for its first Mount Panorama podium since 2009.
Heimgartner will pair up with Dale Wood for the occasion; the Albury squad’s other combinations will be Bryce Fullwood/Dean Fiore, Macauley Jones/Jordan Boys and Jack Smith/Jaxon Evans, pending the latter’s evaluation day next Monday.