Andre HeimgartnerOne round into the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship and already Dannemora, Auckland East, teenager Andre Heimgartner has picked up some pretty special silverware.

Andre made a brilliant start to the championship at Pukekohe this weekend, winning the prestigious Ron Frost Memorial Trophy and ending the round a close second on the championship point standings.

Fifteen-year-old Andre was in the thick of the typically close Formula Ford action from the beginning of proceedings. He looked assured of a front row grid position as qualifying came to a close only to be bumped to fourth on the grid but that would not hamper him at this venue where slipstreaming and passing is a common occurrence.

All three races were superb affairs with massive battles for the top placings. The opening race on Saturday afternoon saw Andre right amongst it. After what he described as an “average” start Andre was battling for the lead with Matt Williams and Tim Vickers. Just after the mid-point of the race Andre got a great draught down the front straight to pass Vickers. He then attempted to pass Williams around the outside into the fast sweeper. Unfortunately the effort saw Andre run wide and go onto the grass, dropping him to fifth place. Over the remainder of the race distance Andre managed to fight his way back to fourth place. During the course of the contest he set the fastest lap of the race.

The following morning Andre was again fourth on the grid for the second race of the round. The Mygale was running a tall first gear for the super fast Pukekohe circuit and consequently once again his start was not the best. However Andre was soon in a battle for second with Tim Vickers which lasted until Vickers lost control and spun. At that point a train of five cars caught the leaders and a massive dice developed with frequent positional changes. Andre managed to close in on leader Matt Williams and crossed the line in second place just 0.086 seconds behind the Cantabrian.

His efforts in the second race put Andre third on the grid for the finale – the Ron Frost Memorial Trophy Race – named after one of New Zealands most influential motor racing administrators. This was the feature race for the category over 12 laps and it was a fantastic spectacle. Andre said later he had never seen so much draughting since his Formula First days. Williams, Vickers and Andre traded the lead many times over the first nine laps and the crowd were loving it! Williams tried to outbrake Andre at the end of the main straight on two occasions and eventually he went off the track. That left Andre and Tim Vickers to battle it out on the final lap. Tim darted out of Andre’s slipstream on the run to the flag but the Mygale hung on to give Andre the win by 0.016 seconds!

Andre received the Ron Frost Memorial Trophy for winning the race, his name joining other illustrious winners such as Shane Van Gisbergen and Paul Radisich – fine company indeed. Andre was also on the podium for the overall round, placing second just three points behind Williams with team mate Stefan Webling in third place.

It was a very happy Andre Heimgartner who left Pukekohe on Sunday evening just three points behind Williams heading into Round 2 at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna in Christchurch in three weeks time.

Andre’s efforts in the 2010/2011 New Zealand Formula Ford Championship are supported by Superlux, New Balance and Harmony Homes.

Photo by sportpromedia.com