Nick Cassidy has stayed clear of trouble and expertly executed an alternative strategy to score his first Super Formula podium of the season at Okayama.
The Kiwi qualified 10th and ran until Lap 48 of 50 before making his mandatory pitstop. Re-joining just ahead of his Super GT co-driver Ryo Hirakawa, Cassidy was able to cling on to third place at the chequered flag.
Most of Cassidy’s need to overtake his rivals was done for him at the start when Ritomo Miyata, Toshiki Oyu and Sacha Fenestraz all came to blows at Turn 1. Eliminated were Miyata and Fenestraz, while Oyu was sentenced with a drive-through penalty for his role in the collision.
Cassidy was thus elevated from tenth to fourth in one tour as the safety car was deployed to help clear the debris.
Victory was ultimately claimed by Sho Tsuboi who pulled off a sublime overtake around the outside of Hiroaki Ishiura at Turn 6.
Ishiura was exiting the pits on Lap 34 but came under fire from a hard-charging Ishiura who was pushing hard to generate sufficient heat into his fresh tyres.
The pair diced for the lead across the opening segment of corners before a daring lunge by Tsuboi saw the lead switch hands for good.
Just a handful of laps earlier Ishiura had swept past pole-sitter Hirakawa who struggled to get his tyres up to temperature following his sole pitstop. Hirakawa then lost the final podium place to Cassidy, rounding out a problematic last stint.
Fortunately for Hirakawa, the Japanese racer maintains the lead of the drivers’ standings with a commanding 14-point advantage over Tsuboi. Cassidy moves up one spot into fifth amongst a four-car gaggle separated by four points.