Aucklander Nick Cassidy’s rollercoaster ride in Japan’s Super Formula Series continued at Sportsland Sugo over the weekend.
The 23-year-old qualified on pole position. “I was able to put in one of the laps of my life,” said the triple New Zealand Grand Prix winner.
Behind him were both the Japanese drivers from Toyota’s World Endurance sportscar team Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima, both of whom have also raced in Formula One.
Cassidy also left triple Le Mans 24 Hours race winner Andrew Lotterer in his wake, as well as Pierre Gasly, last year’s GP2 champion and Red Bull Racing’s reserve driver in Formula One this year.
“I was super pleased with my first pole in Super Formula, especially against those other guys.”
But come yesterday’s race, Cassidy’s fortunes took a dive. The team found it difficult to diagnose and fix an electronic problem with the starting system and he was late to the starting grid to take up pole position, for which he subsequently had to serve a drive through penalty.
When the race started Cassidy did not get away cleanly, a legacy of the starting systems electronic problems and was fifth by the time he exited the first corner. He claimed back one place until serving the drive through penalty, which dropped him to 14th. Then three laps before the finish, the electronic problems halted him for good.
“Our race speed was good,” said Cassidy. “We managed the second fastest lap time in the race so I’m completely gutted with the scenario.”
“It was a massive shame for the race. I guess these things happen in motorsport sometimes, it’s just never nice on the days you start on pole.”