Adding to his already busy schedule, the LEXUS TEAM TOM’s driver will also debut in Japan’s top single seater series, the SUPER FORMULA, making the 22-year-old the first New Zealander to compete in the championship.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more at this stage of my career,” said Cassidy, who won the local Castrol Toyota Racing Series in 2012 and 2013 before heading overseas to further his career.
Cassidy’s SUPER FORMULA debut and return to the SUPER GT for Toyota and Lexus respectively provides him with 15 weekends of racing between April and November.
Cassidy will share the driving of the LEXUS TEAM TOM’S Lexus LC 500 with Ryo Hirakawa in the eight round SUPER GT series. Like Cassidy, Hirakawa is a former Japan Formula 3 Champion. Lexus’ commitment reinforces their growing profile and increased involvement in motor racing in-line with their expanding focus on performance vehicles.
Cassidy will have his first drive of the LC 500 at Sepang in Malaysia early next week. The pinnacle of the season is the Suzuka 1000 kms where he finished second last year. It is Japan’s equivalent of Bathurst.
“So far the car looks very promising,” said Cassidy, who finished fifth in his debut season in SUPER GT in 2016. “We won’t know where we stand until the opening round at Okayama in April. Our rivals will all have new cars too.”
His debut in SUPER FORMULA, where the cars have higher cornering speeds than a 2016 Formula One car will be more daunting.
“It’s a massive challenge and a big jump from Formula 3,” said Cassidy who finished fourth in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship last year.
He will drive for Kondo Racing in SUPER FORMULA with Kenta Yamashita, Cassidy’s team-mate when he won the Japan Formula 3 title in 2015.
“We have a lot to learn,” said Cassidy. “I am not setting any expectations, but just want to do the best job possible.”
Two of his big name rivals will be Andre Lotterer, who has won Le Mans four times and Pierre Gasly who won last year’s GP2 Championship, the main support category to Formula One.
Cassidy will live in Tokyo, rather than out of a suitcase as he did last year, when he commuted between Japanese and European commitments.
“It’s my third year in Japan, so I’ve got to know the tracks, how the teams work and the culture. That will be a big help.”
Cassidy won the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild for three consecutive years – 2012 to 2014. This year’s edition will be held there on February 11 and 12, as the final round of this year’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
Cassidy’s programme is:
- April 8-9 Okayama
- May 3-4 Fuji
- May 20-21 Autopolis
- July 22-23 Sugo
- August 5-6 Fuji
- August 26-27 Suzuka
- October 7-8 Thailand
- November 11-12 Motegi
- April 22-23 Suzuka Circuit
- May 27-28 Okayama
- July 15-16 Fuji Speedway
- August 19-20 Twin Ring Motegi
- September 9-10 Okayama International Circuit
- September 23-24 Sportsland Sugo
- October 28-29 Suzuka Circuit