Motorsport: Cassidy front-runner in open-wheelers

By Eric Thompson

An ever-growing international field is taking on a Kiwi champion in the new year's Toyota Racing Series

Defending Toyota Racing Series champion Nick Cassidy is out to prove he can best the young overseas drivers turning up for the series starting in January.

But organisers have attracted a quality field Downunder, each wanting to be the first overseas driver to win the championship in eight years, and Cassidy will have his work cut out.

A further seven drivers, including Cassidy, were announced at the first TRS test session at Hampton Downs last week, led by Alex Lynn, who raced last season and has had a great season in the British Formula Three championship.

As well as winning the 2012 title, Cassidy won the New Zealand Grand Prix. He won four races, notched nine podium finishes and set three fastest laps. After his TRS season Cassidy competed in several rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 with Fortec Motorsport and tested a GP3 car with Status GP at Valencia, Spain.

The 18-year-old will swap to the M2 Competition team for this series, raced over five weekends.

Lynn arrives from an impressive debut at last month's Macau Grand Prix. He took pole position on the daunting street circuit - the first rookie to do so since 2006 - and finished on the podium in both the qualification race and the Formula 3 Grand Prix.

In 2011 Lynn was ninth in TRS with one win, three podium finishes and a fastest lap. He dominated the UK Formula Renault 2.0 series with 12 wins from 20 starts, a series record. He finished fourth in this year's British Formula 3 series with a win, two pole positions, nine podium finishes and five fastest laps.

Also returning is Thailand's Tanart Sathienthirakul, who competed as a rookie this year.

He made a capable transition to wings-and-slicks racecars and raced in the Formula Renault 2.0 series this year. Sathienthirakul, 20, will race with ETEC Motorsport.

Alongside Sathienthirakul will be 19-year-old Colombian Tatiana Calderon. She has a strong background in karting, finishing sixth in the 2011 US Star Mazda Championship and ninth in the Formula 3 Open series in Europe. Other imports include Jann Mardenborough (Britain), 16-year-old Akash Nandy (Malaysia), and Norwegian Dennis Olsen.

- NZ Herald

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