Nick Cassidy and his co-driver Ryo Hirakawa have salvaged eighth placed in their Lexus LC 500 at the latest round of Japan’s Super GT series, a 300 kms race at Chang in Thailand.
The result has dropped the defending champions from third to fourth equal in the series, which has four further rounds in Japan.
Aucklander Cassidy came into the race carrying the second most ballast weight of any car. It is used to handicap the best performing cars in the series.
“This weekend was always going to be really tough. It’s a frustrating time of the year,” said Cassidy.
“These races are really hard and especially on this track now with the fuel restrictor we got for this race, as well as the weight.”
Cassidy said he had not expected too much as only championship leader, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion, Jensen Button, who didn’t even finish in the points was carrying more weight.
In his 35-lap stint at the start of the race, Cassidy steadily made up places with good long run pace after Hirakawa only qualified 12th. By the time he pitted to hand over, Cassidy was eighth.
But problems changing the left rear wheel, meant Hirakawa re-joined in 11th.
He managed to recover to eighth by the finish, while Cassidy’s two main rivals, Button and Ronnie Quintarelli finished further back, closing up the series points race.
Lexus locked out the podium, with former Formula 1 drivers, Heiki Kovalainen and Kamui Kobayashi winning for the first time this season.
The Finn now leads the championship at its halfway point.
Results. – Chang 300 kms, Round 4, Super GT Championship
1, H Kovalainen, K Kobayashi (Lexus LC500) 66 laps;
2, K Oshima, F Rosenqvist (Lexus LC500) 2.86 seconds behind;
3, Y Luminoso, K Yamashita (Lexus LC500) 12.969 secs;
8, N Cassidy, R Hirakawa (Lexus LC500) 1min 06.628 secs.
1, Kovalainen, 35;
2, N Yamamoto, J Button (Honda NSX) 32;
3, T Matsuda, R Quintarelli (Nissan GTR) 31;
4=, Cassidy, Hirakawa; Oshima, Rosenqvist, 29.