Motorsport: Japanese Formula 3 win propels Cassidy into GT driver's seat

By Eric Thompson

Nick Cassidy celebrates after winning the Japanese F3 championship last year.
Nick Cassidy celebrates after winning the Japanese F3 championship last year.

Talent gets you only so far in motorsport. Putting aside any possible luck in having a fat chequebook, coupling talent with hard work and self-belief will eventually get you where you want to be.

New Zealand is in a purple patch to rival the halcyon days of the 1960s and '70s when Kiwi race car drivers were taking on the world and succeeding at elite level.

In the past few years, we've had Scott Dixon win an Indianapolis 500, two Daytona 24 Hours and a couple of IndyCar titles, Earl Bamber win the Le Mans 24 Hour and a Porsche Supercup title, Brendon Hartley become a world endurance champion and the likes of Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard doing well in the V8 Supercars.

Another name well on the way to making that list is Nick Cassidy, who has just been announced as a driver for the factory-backed Lexus RC-F team in the Japanese Super GT.

Cassidy has won three New Zealand Grand Prix titles and two Toyota Racing Series (TRS) championships and has dabbled in many other junior formula categories in Europe.

His international racing career was piecemeal for a few years until he got the chance to race a full series in the Japanese Formula 3 championship, which he won last year.

Winning that title would have gone a long way to helping the 21-year-old secure the drive with Japanese Tachi Oiwa Motor Sport (Tom's).

"Winning the Japanese F3 championship had a massive influence on my career and was the perfect way to reward Toyota for the support they put into me last year," said Cassidy from Japan after the announcement.

"To then achieve the dream of securing a factory role with Lexus for this year was something I wasn't even sure could happen after just one year in Japan.

"Toyota evaluated me in the Super Formula testing at the end of the [F3] season, which was my first time in the bigger single seater, and I was able to top the rookie time sheets and go faster than my teammate.

"It was the perfect outcome for me and helped secure this drive."

Often regarded as one of fastest touring car series in the world, Super GT has two categories (GT500 and GT300) that compete in the same race.

Cassidy is taking on the drivers in the top GT500 class, which is the showcase for the high performance cars manufactured by Lexus, Honda and Nissan.

It'll be no easy task for the young Kiwi, as the series attracts a number of quality drivers from Europe.

This won't be a distraction for Cassidy, who has already taken on the best young international drivers during his stint in the TRS championship.

Race distances vary between 300km and 1000km with drivers in the top class having to negotiate past the slower GT300 cars.

Cassidy joins former GT500 champion Daisuke Ito in sharing the driving over the eight-round series.

Japanese Super GT

April 9-10: Okayama Intl. Circuit
May 3-4: Fuji Speedway
May 21-22: Autopolis
July 23-24: Sportsland
August 6-7: Fuji Speedway
August 27-28: Suzuka Circuit
October 8-9: Chang International Circuit
November 12-13: Twin Ring Motegi

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 10 Dec 2016 11:43:17 Processing Time: 458ms