A tactical throw of the dice has seen Nick Cassidy finish second in the latest round of Japan’s Super Formula series at Sugo overnight, elevating him to second overall in the championship after three rounds.
The Aucklander had only qualified 11th in his 600 horsepower Toyota powered single seater after perplexing indifferent speed during practice and qualifying despite having taken pole position at this event last year.
In the early laps he lost a couple of places having started the 58-lap race on medium tyres while just about everybody else was on soft compound rubber.
His Kondo team brought Cassidy into the pits on just the sixth lap to put him on soft compound tyres and get him out of traffic.
As the race progressed, Cassidy steadily moved up the leader board, as other drivers pitted, or exited the race through off track incidents which brought out several safety car periods.
After everybody had made their mandatory pit stop the 23-year-old found himself in second place behind round one winner Naoki Yamamoto, a place he maintained to the finish, leading home former Formula One driver Kazuki Nakajima.
Cassidy, a triple New Zealand Grand Prix winner, had to save fuel in the closing laps, because he had pitted so early in the race even though the fuel tank had been refilled to capacity.
The result partially vindicates his performance at the second round at Autopolis a fortnight ago, where Cassidy qualified third, but the race was cancelled because of dangerous conditions.
The series now has a six-week break before the next round at Fuji on 8 July.
Results, Super Formula, Round three, 58 laps:
1, Naoki Yamamoto;
2, Nick Cassidy, +9.424 seconds;
3, Kazuki Nakajima, +10.111;
4, Tom Dillmann, +21.446;
5, Narain Karthikeyan, +22.056;
1, Yamamoto, 21;
2, Cassidy, 10;
3, Tomoki Nojiri, 9;
4, Yuhi Sekiguchi, 8;
5, Nakajima, 7.