Andre Heimgartner and Paul Morris make a contrasting pair as they team up for the BNT NZ SuperTourers endurance series, the first section of the 2014-15 championship.
Just turned 19, Aucklander Heimgartner will be the youngest driver in the fast field that grids up for the Rush Security Taupo 400 on September 27-28, while Australian Morris at 46 will be by far the oldest.
“We’ve got the most inexperienced and the most experienced drivers together, a bit of a contrast,” Heimgartner says.
“His experience is really valuable, just in how you do pit stops and all that sort of stuff – he’s done that a million times so he knows exactly what frame of mind you need to be in, so it definitely has helped me and the team having him there.”
Morris, nicknamed the Dude, also brings valuable expertise when it comes to fine-tuning the car setup for each track and each set of conditions. His career includes V8 Supercars, two-litre Super Touring cars and New Zealand’s TraNZam championship.
“Obviously Paul’s had a lot of experience so he can point out the little things that I sometimes miss out on,” Heimgartner says. “Even if he’s not as fast as me at times he still can set the car up better than me so it’s really beneficial to have him there, it makes a big difference. It’s very valuable.”
Heimgartner might be young but he is fast and he has already accumulated plenty of experience himself. He currently stands third in Australia’s Dunlop V8 Supercars Development Series, he came fifth in the 2014 BNT NZ SuperTourers championship, and he has been contracted by legendary Supercars team Dick Johnson Racing (DJR).
“This is my fourth season in SuperTourers and I did a season in Porsches and two seasons in the Dunlop V8 Supercars. For my age I’ve done a lot of racing but I’ve still got a way to go.
“DJR sort of spotted me and I signed a two-year driver development programme with them. I can use their gym facilities and all that. They’ve helped me a lot with knowledge of how the whole industry works and I’ve really appreciated what they’ve done for me.”
Although Heimgartner is taller and slimmer than Morris, they can both use the same seating position, which saves time when they come into the pits to change drivers.
“We just hop in and out, a bit of a compromise but it’s not too bad.”
The contrasting connection came about through Heimgartner’s mechanic Todd Bickerton, a friend of Morris’s.
“He told Paul that he should come over and say hello. And the next Tuesday he actually he came over and tested the SuperTourer. We’ve been good mates and he’s helped me out with SuperTourer drives for the last three years.”
Meanwhile Heimgartner is preparing for his first assault on the Bathurst 1000km race, partnering fellow BNT NZ SuperTourers driver Ant Pedersen in a Ford Falcon prepared by Ford Performance Racing for the new Kiwi-owned Super Black team.
“It’s a great privilege to be able to race a car there, especially for a team representing New Zealand,” Heimgartner says. “There’s definitely added pressure there but at the end of the day Ant and I just need to get the job done and make it to the last lap.”