New Zealander Nick Cassidy now has the trifecta of championships in Japan. Last weekend, he knocked off the Super Formula championship to go along with his 2015 Japanese Formula Three title and his 2017 Super GT championship.

Cassidy headed into the weekend one point behind Naoki Yamamoto and was in the same position as 2018, when he finished second in the title race. In a testament to the talent of both drivers, they topped the standings despite having to come to grips with driving for new teams and getting their respective heads around a new car. During the off-season, Cassidy moved from Kondo Racing to Toyota's TOM'S racing, and the series introduced a new Dallara SF19 car, replacing the ageing SF14 model.

The Kiwi finished second on the day, with Yamamoto crossing in fifth, handing the championship to Cassidy by just three points.

"I'm absolutely stoked to have won the Super Formula championship and add my name alongside previous winners like Satoru Nakajima, Ralf Schumacher, Pedro de la Rosa, Loic Duval and Andre Lotterer," Cassidy told the Herald on Sunday.


"The season has been hard, with so many very good drivers in the field. You have to make the most of the days when you're not at the front, and if we're fast, we had to get a good result.

"There have been a lot of changes in the past year and it has been a great challenge. It has been great to have such a good season in a new car and a new team. I felt like we got stronger as a team [during the season] and we are getting faster, which is the most important thing."

Cassidy's consistency has been a benchmark for the category, earning points in 12 of his last 13 races since 2018.

The Super GT championship has also been a stop on the climb to Formula One for Pierre Gasly and Stoffel Vandoorne, and in some circles is regarded as one of the toughest championships to win, especially for a non-Japanese driver.

Cassidy is the first foreigner to win since Lotterer in 2011 and gave his new Toyota factory-backed TOM'S team their first win in five years. He won his two other titles with the team.

Although Cassidy had an early foray into Europe, he became an early adopter of looking towards the Asia Pacific route as a way to become a professional driver. The two-time Toyota Racing Series champion announced his arrival in the region by finishing third in the well-respected Macau Grand Prix in 2014.

"It's been a pretty crazy journey for me. Basically my career kicked off through the Toyota Racing Series and the success I had there got me to Europe to race Formula Renault.

Kiwi driver Nick Cassidy in his Toyota Dallara SF19 on his way to winning the Super Formula championship in Japan. Photo / Sho Tamura
Kiwi driver Nick Cassidy in his Toyota Dallara SF19 on his way to winning the Super Formula championship in Japan. Photo / Sho Tamura

"We did it pretty tough, having a very limited budget, and ended up doing random part-programmes. I must say the main thing that helped me with success in Europe was in Formula Three with ThreeBond who sponsored T Sport, a British team, and they selected me to do the final two rounds of the European Championship and the Macau Grand Prix.


"We finished third as a rookie among a grid jam-packed with talent. Felix Rosenqvist won the race and he's now teammates with Scott Dixon in IndyCar. Others on the grid were Esteban Ocon [F1 and DTM], Tom Blomqvist [DTM, WEC and IMSA] and Max Verstappen [F1].

"I was introduced to TOM'S that weekend and invited to a test in Japan in Formula Three. As they are backed by Toyota, there was no budget required, and this was a huge move for my career.

"It was a fantastic year [2015] and I went to the last race equal on points at the top of the table. We won the two races over the weekend and clinched the title. Winning that championship has set me up for the success and opportunities that have happened since."

Cassidy has firmly established himself in Japan as one of the best drivers over the past five years. What makes Cassidy's racing statistics in Japan even more interesting is he has been successful in open wheel and GT racing. There aren't many drivers who can say they have won hotly contested championships in single seaters and tin tops.

He's a factory driver for Lexus in the Super GT and Toyota (through the manufacturer's TOM'S-backed team) in the Super Formula championship. Super GT is Japan's equivalent of the Australian Supercars series, but with much better-looking cars developing over 650 horsepower, and are the fastest form of production-based sports racing today.

The Super Formula cars are no slouches either and can be compared to an IndyCar. When raced at F1 track Suzuka, lap times would have qualified a Super Formula car towards the back of the F1 grid.

"Between Super Formula and Super GT, the cars aren't that different. The Super GT cars have so much downforce and are around 12 seconds a lap faster than a normal GT3 car.

"The driving style is quite similar to a single seater and that makes it easier for you to do both championships. The cars are very close to LMP1 in speed, and in the past few years, a number of drivers were snapped up to race in the World Endurance Championship [WEC].

"Not so much now, as a number of manufacturers have pulled out of the LMP1 class, so there's not many seats there any more."

Cassidy has had forays into other categories and championships since his arrival in Japan.

Over the years, he has raced in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), Blancpain GT series, IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar championship, Daytona 24 Hour, Suzuka 10 Hour and the 24 Hour of Spa.

"I have to be very careful about what to do next. I'm not closing the door on any options and I'm looking forward to a few exciting months," he said.