After a successful 2018 racing season in Japan, New Zealand driver Nick Cassidy will continue to drive for Lexus and Toyota in Japan’s two premier classes, Super GT and Super Formula in 2019.
“It’s great to be able to continue my relationship with Lexus and Toyota Gazoo Racing for 2019. Both series have great momentum at the moment and it’s an honour to be racing against a full field of professionals year in, year out. It is also a big honour to be with TOM’S in Super Formula, a team that is now family to me in Japan,” says Aucklander Cassidy, who finished runner-up in both Japanese categories in 2018, with the championship titles not decided until the last lap of the final races.
He will continue his partnership with Ryo Hirakawa in a Lexus LC 500 in the eight-round Super GT series.
Preparations have been under way for the 2019 racing season with Cassidy testing the new chassis which will be used for Super Formula - the world’s second fastest single seater category after Formula One – over the past month.
He will be moving to Toyota’s top team for the seven-round Super Formula championship after two successful seasons with Kondo, which almost netted him the title.
“I’m excited to be alongside former Formula One driver and two-times series champion Kazuki Nakajima in the Vantelin Team TOM’S. But I’m aware of the challenge that lies ahead,” he said.
Despite his disappointment in missing out on a championship to repeat his Super GT success of 2017, 24-year-old Cassidy, who is a triple New Zealand Grand Prix winner and double Toyota Racing Series champion, still considered 2018 a success.
“If you’d told me we were going to have a year like we did at the start of the year, I wouldn’t have believed you,” says Cassidy.
“Early on we didn’t expect to challenge for the Super GT title again. We were behind the top Nissan and Honda teams. It was great we still ended up the top Lexus team for a second year.”
His run to second in Super Formula by just 0.6 of a second was the culmination of a 100 per cent team effort all the time, says Cassidy.
Cassidy paid tribute to the Kondo Racing team that he came close to winning the Super Formula championship with, in 2018.
“I would like to say ‘arigato gozaimasu’ to Kondo san and the awesome people at Kondo Racing. He gave me my break and in return we came so close to winning the Driver’s Championship together.”
Cassidy has been carrying out promotional work in Japan after the final round of Super GT, including the Toyota Festival at Fuji, which included laps of the track with all the other top cars and drivers from the various series which Toyota and Lexus contest worldwide.
“It was pretty cool being out there in the Super Formula car with the LMP1 world endurance sports car and the WRC Yaris, as well as Ryo in our Lexus LC 500.”