Nick Cassidy has surrendered another spot in the Super GT championship after a fourth-place finish in the latest round from Fuji Speedway.
Despite the demotion in the points race, Cassidy was still proud of his super drive from 11th on the grid as once again the success handicap hindered the TOMs Supras preparations.
Ex-Formula One driver and Super GT rookie Heikki Kovalainen and Yuichi Nakayama delivered a first win for the SARD Toyota team at Fuji Speedway, courtesy of a swift pitstop and a mega final stint by Nakayama.
Kovalainen had started fifth but was up to third by the team the pit window rolled around. The Finn then swapped out with Nakayama who was elevated into second and just behind pole-sitter Tomoki Nojiri in the Honda NSX and who had also stopped on the same lap.
The Japanese racer then charged after provisional leader Nojiri, completing the move on Lap 27 of 66.
Once in the lead and having built out a five-second margin, Nakayama then put the car in fuel conservation mode and eased home to a first win of 2020.
From 11th, Cassidy delivered a strong drive in his opening stint to find himself fifth by the time the first of the leaders began peeling into the pitlane.
Once in control of co-driver Ryo Hirakawa, the TOMs Supra looked to have the pace to challenge for victory possibly. But a drop in tyre performance meant Hirakawa was reeled in by Nojiri, who had relinquished the lead during the pitstops.
Nojiri and Hirakawa then tussled for second, but both were powerless in defence to Sho Tsuboi in the Cerumo Toyota. Overtaking both in successive laps, Tsuboi was able to consolidate the runners up position and thus usurp Yuhi Sekiguchi and Sacha Fenestraz as the new championship leaders.
The change of points leaders was affirmed by Nojiri who followed Tsuboi past Hirakawa to salvage their first podium of 2020.
Sekiguchi and Fenestraz had a muted affair and ultimately crossed the line in 12th after a late-race puncture dropped the team two laps down.
Eyes now turn to the sixth round of the championship at Suzuka Circuit over October 24-25.
|Yuichi Nakayama Heikki Kovalainen
| Kazuya Oshima
|Tomoki Nojiri Nirei Fukuzumi
|Nick Cassidy Ryo Hirakawa
|Naoki Yamamoto Tadasuke Makino
|Hideki Mutoh Ukyo Sasahara
|Yuji Kunimoto Ritomo Miyata
|Daiki Sasaki Kazuki Hiramine
|Hiroaki Ishiura Yuji Tachikawa
|Koudai Tsukakoshi Bertrand Baguette
|Ronnie Quintarelli Tsugio Matsuda
|Yuhi Sekiguchi Sacha Fenestraz
|Takuya Izawa Hiroki Otsu
|Jann Mardenborough Mitsunori Takaboshi
|Kohei Hirate Katsumasa Chiyo