Motorsport: Cassidy builds up his confidence

By Eric Thompson

A respectable placing in Germany puts the Kiwi racer back into contention in Zandvoort this weekend.
Nick Cassidy came from the back in Germany. Picture / Suer Photo
Nick Cassidy came from the back in Germany. Picture / Suer Photo

New Zealand race car driver Nick Cassidy is doing double duty this season in the European Formula Three championship and the Japanese Super GT series.

This weekend he has to put on his single seater game-face for round six of the Euro F3 championship at Zandvoort, the Netherlands.

"I've been back in Japan recently for some Super GT testing and now I'm back in Europe for F3 racing," said Cassidy from the Netherlands.

"This four to five week period of the year is the busiest for me with F3 this weekend, Super GT and then back F3.

"To be honest it is a bit hard [jumping in and out of the different cars] and not that easy. When I first started in the Super GT car it wasn't too hard to get up to about 90 per cent, but after that getting to 100 per cent and maximising both cars [F3 and Super GT] is more difficult.

"I'm really enjoying it though, and the opportunity to do so much racing in two different categories is fantastic."

The 21-year-old began the season back in April at Paul Ricard with a hiss and a roar getting on the podium in all three races.

However, over the next four rounds things didn't quite go according to plan, as a succession of mechanical issues caused him and his Prema team to stutter from round to round.

He did however manage to pick up a few points at each venue, eventually coming good in Germany picking up valuable points in all three races putting him back in championship contention. Canadian Lance Stroll has a healthy 86-point lead over the chasing pack, but the good news is that Cassidy is fifth, just 37 points behind second place.

"It's been difficult at times and we just have to eliminate the things that go wrong. We've had amazing speed and either been on the podium or scored zero points. You can't win a championship like that and I've lost five races where neither the team nor I could do anything about it, which really sucks.

"But that's motorsport. We're still really close to P2 in the championship and I'm confident we can at least get to there over the next two rounds - that's the goal anyway.

"A major issue was losing three races over one weekend because the tyres fell apart [delaminating]. At the time the teams didn't know about the problem and at the next round we had a new batch and went two seconds a lap faster.

"At the last race [Germany] I had to start at the back of the grid in two races because of gearbox problems in qualifying.

"The good thing is we came from the back of the grid to finish P4 and P6, which showed just how quick we can be when everything goes well.

"That's given us a good feeling going into this weekend," he said.

The Zandvoort track is a healthy 4.7km long with 13 corners and is a bit of a crowd favourite due to its fast, flowing corners punctuated by the famous high camber Tarzanbocht hairpin. Cassidy, a three-time New Zealand Grand prix winner, despite a number of years racing in Europe, hasn't been to the Dutch track yet and reckons it should suit his racing style.

"I've never been to Zandvoort before so it'll be new for me. On the other hand the team has been here before so that's good.

"It's [the track] a lot to learn in a weekend but I've at least been on the simulator and it looks like a fast track. It's like a New Zealand track in some ways - high speed with no run offs and you'll be punished for your mistakes.

"I think passing will be hard this weekend as everyone will be running high downforce and the corners aren't that well designed for passing. It's the kind of track that everyone says they like.

"Everyone is so close and in qualifying the field can be covered by less than a second.

"The cars are all so similar in speed and that makes passing so hard. We have to qualify well to make sure we can maximise the speed we have and stay out front."

Pitstop

European first for Young

Kiwi rally driver Michael Young is racing at Rally Estonia. It's the 23-year-old's first time racing in Europe and in a twist he'll be in the co-driver's seat with APRC teammate Sanjay Takale behind the wheel of the Markko Martin Motorsport built Subaru Impreza. The car is similar to his APRC Impreza, with a few upgrades like a sequential gearbox.

Young karters hit Taranaki

School-age karters from all over New Zealand will be in Taranaki this weekend racing in the KartSport New Zealand's National Schools Championship. The event has attracted over 80 entries across five different classes. It is also the final round of the inaugural ROK Cup New Zealand.

Kiwi karters in Bolivar

Sticking with karting, a seven-strong group of Kiwi karters will be at Bolivar, South Australia this weekend to honour the late Jason Richards at a special memorial round of Australia's Rotax Pro Tour. The former Melbourne-based V8 Supercar driver was born and raised in Nelson and was a multi-time South Island and New Zealand Sprint Kart champion.

Kiwi link for Miller

Aussie MotoGP rider Jack Miller arrives in Germany for round 10 of the series hot from his break through win at Assen where he was the first non-factory rider to win a race since 2006. Although born in Australia, Miller's parents are Kiwis so New Zealand fans will have a vested interest to watch his progress.

Sordo in doubt for Finland

Hyundai Motorsport rally driver Dani Sordo is in doubt of making the start at Rally Finland, July 28-31. Kiwi Hayden Paddon's teammate fractured a vertebrae after a suspension failure on his i20 caused him to crash heavily during testing. Paddon remains third in WRC standings behind Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen.

Under the hood

The FIA has come down in favour of the Halo as the preferred safety option for an F1's cockpit. The FIA is relentless in trying to push through the device despite a general dislike for the thing. Part of the attraction in single-seater racing is that fans can see the driver's head move around as the car is flung from corner to corner. For the Halo to be forced through, it needs a unanimous vote of approval from the F1 Commission and Strategy Group, which could be unlikely as Red Bull Racing's team principal Christian Horner said he would oppose its introduction if put to a vote.

- NZ Herald

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