Nick Cassidy will be greeted with unorthodox return to SUPER GT next week at Fuji Speedway with series organisers abridging the weekend’s running in an attempt to mitigate health risks associated with coronavirus.
A sole practice session on Saturday evening will lead into an action-packed Sunday with qualifying for both the GT300 and GT500 cars before the 66-lap race Sunday afternoon.
It will be an interesting return for Cassidy after the Kiwi completed a promising pre-season test last week but admits the all-new Toyota GR Supra he will pilot in 2020 is behind in performance on the front-engined Honda NSX-GT which swept both days of testing.
“We’re still slightly behind the NSX but it’s pretty close,” Cassidy told Motorsport.com after last week’s test. “It seemed Honda could go fastest whenever they wanted, which is kind of scary.
“But I think we’ve had a good pre-season. We’ve ended much stronger than we started, we’ve made good progress, so I’m optimistic.
“I haven’t done too much testing this year because I missed [a private test in] Malaysia and Okayama was half-and-half with the weather, so the Supra is still quite new for me, but we definitely made a step forward.”
While scarily fast, the NSX Honda has also proven to be reliable with the Japanese manufacturer running a faultless test which was also held on Fuji Speedway.
A bumper 44-strong grid is expected to take to the grid in the season-opening race, with 29 GT300 entries confirmed.
Fortunately, Japan-domiciled Cassidy has been able to avoid the border restrictions which has seen the likes of ex-Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen left standard at home in Europe.
Reigning GT500 Drivers’ Champion Kenta Yamashita, will replace Kovalainen in the #39 Denso Kobelco SARD Toyota GR Supra but uncertainty at the border may mean the Finn’s delay is prolonged.