Nick Cassidy and TOM’S Toyota teammate Ryo Hirakawa have made the best possible start to the introduction of the Supra to Super GT by claiming an emphatic victory in the season-opening race at Fuji Speedway.
Toyota claimed the top five positions in a surprise result considering the manufacturer was adamant the all-new Honda NSX would sweep the competition in race trim.
But a surprise pole position lap by Hirakawa earlier in the day set up a brilliant day for the team with Cassidy and his co-driver leading all 66 laps and surviving two safety cars to cruise to an unchallenged victory five-seconds clear of the sister Supra in a TOM’S 1-2.
The first restart saw Cassidy, who had started the race, head the field after an opening lap clash between Daiki Sasaki and Takuya Izawa yielded the full course caution.
The Kiwi was in a class of his own, building a five-second lead by lap 15 as the leading Honda of Nirei Fukuzumi fended off a challenge by the sister TOM’s Supra of Sacha Fenestraz.
It would take until lap 23 until Fenestraz worked himself into second, with Cassidy opting to pit eight laps later to hand control over to Hirakawa having built out a 12-second lead.
The second safety car was called only a handful of laps into Hirakawa’s stint when one of the GT300 cars was tagged into a spin in the ‘Esses’, stalling the car before retiring for good.
Yuhi Sekiguchi had gained control of the sister TOM’S Supra in second position but never offered any challenge to Hirakawa who calmly powered to a commanding victory.
The crushing victory by the TOM’S team etches a powerful statement into the minds of their rivals with Cassidy and Hirakawa now a likely title favourite in the rapid eight-round series.
Toyota also enjoyed success in the GT300 class with the Saitama Toyopet Green Brave team taking victory in the V8 GR Supra.
Super GT will have another race at Fuji Speedway on August 9, the second of four races at the Toyota-owned venue.
Full Race replay below: