GT
Wednesday, Oct 11 07:06pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Nick Cassidy reflects on truly dominant SUPER GT win

The Autobacs SUPER GT Series isn’t a series that lends itself to big winning margins. Of the first seven races this season only three were won by more than five-seconds at the chequered flag.


Most races this year have been won by just over a second at the finish line. However, last weekend Nick Cassidy and Lexus KeePer TOM’S Racing teammate Ryō Hirakawa dominated at Thailand’s Chang International Circuit for their second win of the season.


It was their best performance of the year, despite still running with 48kgs of extra weight.


Cassidy and Hirakawa were quick all weekend. Qualifying on Saturday began with Cassidy coming through to make it into the top-eight shootout, which was backed up by Hirakawa who stormed to pole position.


Sunday morning’s warm-up was a sign of things to come when Cassidy went quickest of anyone in the brief session.


A sizeable downpour before the race start threw the start into disarray, and almost everyone to start on wet tyres. Those brave enough to run the slick were punished quickly with almost no grip on the circuit.


“When it poured down on the grid I wasn’t sure how it was going to affect us because I thought out degradation was going to be quite bad,” Cassidy told velocitynews.co.nz.


“I had just been quickest in the dry warm up one hour before with old tyres, so I was thinking if it was a dry race it’d be straightforward. But it rained and threw a spanner in the works.”


Cassidy’s fears were quickly put to bed when their pace put them clear of second placed runner Jann Mardenborough who was paired with Hironobu Yasuda. The CALSONIC TEAM IMPUL Nissan GT-R duo threatened Cassidy’s lead early, but the Kiwi was too quick and kep them at bay.


“After lap-four I was just cruising and not pushing the tyre and then realised we’ve got pretty good speed.


“In this kind of race, as soon as you’ve got speed you don’t need to take as much risk. It’s a nice feeling to have.”


The first round of pit stops came early for slick tyres. Cassidy was one of the first to pit ahead of Mardenborough who opted to stay out. The move ultimately proved to be the best one of the race as the Kiwi set about setting fastest laps.


“My out lap was insane. It was probably one of my best out laps I’ve ever done. They told me when [Mardenborough] was coming out the pits, but I knew on my out lap I could feel the grip that I had on the slick compared to what I had on the wet.


“I knew it was going to be quicker when I saw him continue. It enabled us at the first stop where we changed to slicks to put on more fuel than the others. Even in my second stint on slicks if they caught me it didn’t really matter because our second stop was going to be shorter.”


Another pit stop to swap seats with Hirakawa put the Japanese driver well clear of the field to eventually come home 12-seconds ahead of fellow Lexus LC500 drivers Kazuya Oshima and

Andrea Caldarelli.


With just one round left in the title race Cassidy and Hirakawa sit seven points ahead of Oshima and Caldarelli.


It’s a position Cassidy’s not been in before, this year being only his second full season of the SUPER GT Series. Despite being new to the series relative to his rivals, Cassidy said he has every bit of confidence he needs to pull of the needed result at Twin Ring Motegi in November.


“Being in the position that we are I’m sure that we’ve got the support of Lexus, TRD, TOM’S pushing us now. We have had all year, but obviously now we’re in the box seat. It’s definitely the best position to be in.


“I’m confident in our speed and Ryō and I think we’ll be fine there. But, in this race, as you’ve seen, anything can happen. We’ve still got to be prepared for anything.


“It feels pretty good, but at the same time anything can happen. It’s motorsport, so it’s tough. You’ve almost got too much time to think about it—like five weeks until the final.


“But in the end, we don’t need to over complicate anything. We just need to do the job that we’ve been doing all year then we should more or less be okay.”


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