Andre Heimgartner will make his full-time Supercars Championship return at Nissan Motorsport in 2018, replacing Todd Kelly who announced his retirement from racing.

The New Zealander made a sparkling debut in the Supercars Championship at the 2014 Bathurst 1000 in a wildcard entry run by Super Black Racing ahead of its full-time debut in the category the following year. Heimgartner spearheaded the one-car team’s maiden season in 2015, peaking with a third-placed qualifying result and three top-ten finishes prior to budget constraints forcing him out of the team.

He moved to the minnow LD Motorsport squad in 2016 but the outfit struggled with a lack of development and poor reliability, consigning him to the tail of the field.

Out of a full-time drive in 2017, Heimgartner was a last-minute call-up to serve as a co-driver to Tim Slade at Brad Jones Racing when Ash Walsh took ill. His performances kept him on a number of teams’ radars, leading to him being signed at Nissan Motorsport alongside Michael Caruso, Simona de Silvestro and team co-owner Rick Kelly.

“I’m delighted to reveal that I’ll be joining Nissan Motorsport next year,” said Heimgartner.

“The team and the facility are world class. Rick and Michael both have heaps of experience in Supercars, plus Simona has raced IndyCar and Formula E, so I hope to learn a lot.

“Nissan is a major global brand racing across the world, so it’s exciting to be aligned with them into the future. It’s a shame there’s still a few months until we’re racing again. I want to jump in the car and get going.”

Having just hung up his helmet, team co-owner Todd Kelly was delighted to reveal the identity of the driver who will replace him.

“We’re really excited to have Andre as part of the team,” he added.

“Andre is a really promising talent and has experience in the main game. Our line-up for next season is now pretty diverse but also extremely capable. What Andre was able to achieve in the Pirtek Enduro Cup made the entire paddock stand up and take notice.

“I am comfortable in retiring from racing knowing that we have such a promising young talent driving with us. I look forward to being able to watch him develop throughout the year.”

Image via LAT Images

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Geoff Burke

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