Nick Cassidy is staying right in the hunt for Japan’s SUPER GT Championship after finishing sixth in the Fuji 300 kms race last night in his Lexus LC500 with team-mate Ryo Hirakawa.
The pair are only two points behind Englishman James Rossiter who finished fourth in the latest round of Japan’s major series.
“It went much better than expected,” said Aucklander Cassidy, “We weren’t thinking about scoring points because of our weight handicap.”
The pair also have a five percent fuel restriction, thanks to their successes early in the season when they led the series for the first three rounds.
Hirakawa qualified seventh on Saturday, while Cassidy concentrated on full tank fuel runs during practice in preparation for the race.
The pair ran as high as fifth and only slipped back to sixth in the final few laps only 15 seconds behind first time winners, Tomoki Nojiri and Takashi Kobayashi.
“We certainly did not expect to be anywhere near this competitive,” said Cassidy. “Our race pace was really strong.”
“To head to Suzuka well in the fight is a bonus.” The Suzuka 1000 kms in three weeks’ time is Japan’s equivalent of Bathurst, where Cassidy will even have a slight advantage as a couple of his rivals will now have to carry slightly more handicap ballast.
Then for the final two rounds of the series, all the extra weight is removed putting Cassidy and Hirakawa in a strong position with the car back in the same specification as the start of the season.
SUPER GT series, Round 5, Fuji 300 kms
1, T Nojiri, T Kobayashi (Honda NSX)
2, T Matsuda, R Quintarelli (Nissan GTR)
3, Y Tachikawa, H Ishiura (Lexus LC500)
6, N Cassidy, R Hirakawa (Lexus LC500)
Championship Points. –
1, J Rossiter (Lexus LC500) 44;
2, K Oshima, A Caldarelli (Lexus LC500) 43;
3, Cassidy, Hirakawa, 42;
4= Tachikawa, Ishiura & Matsuda, Quintarelli, 41.