Nick Cassidy showed good race pace and audacious overtaking moves, to climb up eight places to finish seventh in the first round of Japan’s Super Formula Series at the Suzuka circuit.
The 23-year-old had qualified 15th, just missing the second qualifying session.
“It was a tough race, but I’m happy with my drive,” said Cassidy, the double Toyota Racing Series champion. “I was able to make some nice overtakes, manage my race and it was nice to collect some points.”
Cassidy made up places steadily during the first half of the race, with several successful overtaking manoeuvres around the outside of rivals in turn one at the end of the long front straight.
The former triple New Zealand Grand prix winner finished in front of the number one TOM’s Toyota team drivers, Kazuki Nakajima and James Rossiter.
Cassidy is now looking forward to fixing a few issues, qualifying better and being able to challenge for higher places later in the season.
Suzuka saw him achieve his goal of finishing in the points, a big improvement on his debut in the series 12 months ago when he was only classified 17th.
Naoki Yamamoto won his first race in Super Formula Series in two years, leading the whole way after qualifying on pole position. The next round is at the Autopolis track on May 13.
Super Formula, Round 1, Suzuka, 51 laps:
1, Naoki Yamamoto (Mugen);
2, Yumi Sekiguchi (Impul-Toyota);
3, Tomoki Nojiri (Dandelion);
4, Hiroaki Ishiura (Inging-Toyota);
5, Takuya Izawa (Nakajima);
6, Koudai Tsukakoshi (Real);
7, Nick Cassidy (Kondo-Toyota).