Nick Cassidy scores a Grand Prix hat trick; Singapore’s Andrew Tang wins the 2014 Toyota Racing Series. It’s a dream result for the newly formed Neale Motorsport team.
Defending Toyota Racing Series champion Nick Cassidy has won the 59th New Zealand Grand Prix, becoming only the second driver to take three Grand Prix wins in a row. He joins Craig Baird, who won a hat trick of wins in 1991-1993.
“It felt really great, the car was perfect and I had the start well sorted. Once I had the first five laps done I was confident of being able to control the race. The safety car period made it difficult but I was able to control the restarts and I was planning to try to set a new lap record but there was a yellow flag for the last five laps so I had to watch out for Jann and Andrew as they closed up with me a bit,” he said afterward.
Cassidy’s weekend was not without its downsides. He survived an overheating engine and subsequent broken axle that put him out of Saturday’s race and a back of the grid start in this morning’s race to preserve his tyres for the Grand Prix.
“The Grand Prix was the goal and the prize, so we took the rest in our stride.”
Cassidy has now won this country’s premier race with three different teams: Giles Motorsport, M2 Competition and the new Neale Motorsport team.
Andrew Tang, who raced much of the championship facing the possibility of not coming to the Grand Prix due to a call-up to national service in Singapore, emphatically made good on a rare deferment offered by his Government and took the title by finishing third today behind key championship rival Jann Mardenborough (UK).
Tang’s strategy was to stay as close as possible to Mardenborough, who overtook him when Tang’s car lost its right hand mirror.
“I couldn’t see him and by the time I knew where he was he was too far alongside so I couldn’t safely defend.”
Slotting in behind Mardenborough, Tang maintained the challenge through to the end, closing up on the British driver in the closing laps.
With Mardenborough just in front, Tang could have afforded to relax, knowing he had the championship advantage. Mardenborough would have had to be two places in front to score enough points to take the title.
Championship front-runner Damon Leitch saw his title hopes fade when he joined the growing attrition list, sledging straight off into the gravel on lap 17 of 35. Only 14 cars of the 24-strong grid finished the race.
Finishing second, Mardenborough clawed the winning margin down to just 11 points. Tang’s title winning tally was 791, Mardenborough’s 780 and third-placed Leitch finished up with 708 ahead of Steijn Schothorst on 632. Martin Rump was top rookie and fifth on 623.