Defending Toyota Racing Series champion Nick Cassidy has inked a deal to race the 2014 New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild.
Cassidy, 19, is aiming to win his third GP title in a row. If he successful, he will join an elite group of drivers who have won three New Zealand Grand Prix titles.
Only Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, Ken Smith MBE and Craig Baird have won three races and only Baird has previously managed to do so as a ‘hat trick’.
The arrangement has been made at breakneck speed.
“It really only started to come together on Sunday, when a car became available and I started talking to my existing sponsors. Both BNT and Jonnesway said yes, and then Northland Toyota and the Giltrap Group have come onboard to make this possible, so it’s really exciting to be able to come to the race with a competitive package at such short notice,” he said.
Second overall and TRS rookie of the year in 2011, champion in 2012 and 2013, the young Aucklander has been driving and testing in a range of categories both in New Zealand and overseas in 2013. He has been advising Andy Neale’s new TRS team and its drivers Andrew Tang and James Munro. Now he joins them to boost the team to three cars for the Grand Prix weekend.
Yesterday during testing in warm and windy conditions at Manfield Cassidy started in fine form, second fastest behind championship leader Andrew Tang.
“I had some very old tyres on and we were really only trying to get the setup dialled in so the early pace is really encouraging.”
Cassidy was part of a near lock-out of top times in that session for Neale Motorsport, with James Munro fourth fastest and only Tang’s chief championship rival Jann Mardenborough spoiling a perfect 1-2-3. Lap times on the 3.033 km circuit were in the 1:04 bracket.
In the second session James Munro remained at the top of the timesheets for much of the 30 minutes of track time. He, Andrew Tang and Mardenborough were all in the 1:03s.
Neale Motorsport is currently second in the teams’ championship standings.