New Zealand’s Nick Cassidy has secured a factory drive in the primary GT500 class of the Japanese Super GT series, having signed on to pilot a Lexus RC-F for the TOM’S squad.
Cassidy, 21, won the 2015 edition of the Japanese Formula 3 championship for TOM’s, scoring seven wins on his way to the crown.
The Kiwi racer, whose other accolades include a third place in the Macau Grand Prix and two championship titles in the off-season Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, will partner Super GT veteran Daisuke Ito, who had won the category back in 2007.
Cassidy had previously made his Super GT debut at Suzuka in August 2015, driving a GT300-class Toyota 86 for the Team Up Garage with Bandoh entry.
The racer’s representatives have confirmed to Motorsport.com that he will also continue racing in single-seaters in 2016.
Kovalainen stays put
In addition to Cassidy’s arrival, the off-season has seen a number of other moves within Lexus’ six-car GT500 effort.
However, both ex-F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen and teammate Kohei Hirate, having finished 13th last year, will stay put – in the #39 entry for Lexus Team SARD.
James Rossiter – a former Honda, Super Aguri and Force India tester in F1 – has been moved to the second TOM’s car to join Ryo Hirakawa, with Andrea Caldarelli partnering Kazuya Oshima in the #6 LeMans car.
Oshima’s now-former teammate Yuji Kunimoto has joined Yuhi Sekiguchi in the #19 Bandoh entry, replacing the retiring three-time champion Juichi Wakisaka.
Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura, who finished as the top-placed Lexus duo last year, have stayed on in the #38 Cerumo machine.