Victory in the penultimate round of the SUPER GT series in Thailand overnight has catapulted Auckland’s Nick Cassidy back into the lead of the championship in his Lexus LC500.
“It was an amazing weekend,” said Cassidy. “There were scattered thunderstorms all weekend, which made conditions very tricky.”
With co-driver Ryo Hirakawa, the pair led from start to finish of the 300 kms race, having started from pole position. They have become the first driver pairing to win more than one round this year, having taken victory at the first race of the championship at Okayama back in April.
“It was an amazing result in a very high-pressure environment, considering the championship points,” said Cassidy.
“Ryo did a great job in second qualifying to put us on pole as the track dried out.” Taking pole position gave them one point towards their year-long series tally.
Earlier Cassidy had done the first qualifying session in wet but drying conditions to advance the car to the top eight shoot out.
While cars were forming up on the grid the rain started pouring down. “Starting on wet tyres behind the safety car I got a great start and led the race with relative ease.”
Cassidy stopped after 14 laps for slick tyres and gained another 10 seconds on his pursuers on just the in and out laps, the Keeper TOM’S team having picked the perfect time to change tyres.
Hirakawa took over the car on lap 34 and was untroubled to continue at the front of the field and win by over 12 seconds from another Lexus LC500 driven by Kazuya Oshima and Andrea Caldarelli, while the third placed NSX was over 30 seconds behind.
“As it turned out the race seemed far less stressful than expected,” said Cassidy.
He and Hirakawa lead the championship by six points from Oshima and Caldarelli, while previous leader Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli could only finish 11th, a lap behind and have dropped to third overall.
The final round of the series is at Motegi in mid-November.
Chang 300 kms, Round 7 SUPER GT Championship
1, N Cassidy, R Hirakawa (Lexus LC500) 66 laps;
2, K Oshima, A Caldarelli (Lexus LC500) 12.121 seconds behind;
3, K Tsukakoshi, T Kogure (Honda NSX) 30.120 behind.
1, Cassidy, Hirakawa, 69;
2, Oshima. Caldarelli, 63;
3, T Matsuda, R Quintarelli, (Nissan GTR) 61.