Motorsport wrap: Nick Cassidy makes F3 breakthrough
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Cassidy takes maiden win, Whiddett in the wall, Dixon's heartbreak
It was another varied weekend of motorsport for New Zealand's international contingent of four-wheeled magicians. But while three out of the four struck struggle street despite their best efforts, one was able to do what we have been expecting him to do since the start of his 2016 campaign; win.
Cassidy strikes gold in Zandvoort
It's been a tough debut full season in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship for Nick Cassidy. He's often shown incredible pace, but has been unable to convert that into a solid weekend of points — barring his drive at the first round of the season.
But at Zandvoort, Cassidy shone. He didn't leave the confines of the podium positions once; finishing second in races one and three, and claiming a maiden race win in race two.
“Taking victory in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is a really good feeling, I am overjoyed. This victory is for my team and for all those who are supporting me,” said Cassidy following the win.
“So far, things haven’t always been going trouble-free for me this season, which was down to factors beyond my control and also beyond control of the team. Today, I already knew prior to the start that the first corner would probably be my only chance to overtake Callum [Ilott], who was ahead of me on the grid. After that, my race wasn’t easy either, because Maximilian [Günther] was quite quick behind me. Eventually, it was enough and I am really happy.”
If you want to watch Cassidy's race-winning drive in full, check out the video above.
Whiddett has a forgettable weekend in Canada
Photo / Larry Chen, Formula Drift
Leading Kiwi drifter 'Mad Mike' Whiddett has been doing it tough since his emotional maiden Formula Drift win at Ebisu Circuit in Japan, and the hard knocks only continued in Canada — Whiddett hitting concrete not once but twice over the course of the weekend.
The first one happened during testing early in the weekend, with Whiddett's 'RADBUL' MX-5 sustaining significant damage to its left-front corner. His team toiled hard, and the car was mended in time for qualifying.
But unfortunately things weren't about to get much better, after the New Zealander made minor contact with the wall during his top-32 battle with Aurimas 'Odi' Bakchis, resulting in Bakchis going through to the top 16 and Whiddett getting knocked out of the running. Rockstar Energy's Frederic Aasbø eventually took the overall win, helping him close the gap on Mustang pilot Vaughn Gittin Jr.
So close but no cigar for Dixon
Photo / sourced
Scott Dixon's 2016 IndyCar Series season has been up and down like a yoyo, with the Kiwi's solitary win in Phoenix looking very lonely — particularly considering his status as the reigning series champion.
Things looked as promising as they ever could at this morning's Honda Indy Toronto Grand Prix; Dixon starting the race from pole position before controlling the majority of it from the front of the pack.
But racing is cruel, and a caution late in the race saw Dixon's strategy get shot to pieces. After rejoining the field as low as 12th, Dixon picked his way through the pack to eventually finish eighth in yet another case of 'what could have been'. Team Penske's Will Power won the race, helping him further close down the margin to runaway series leader Simon Pagenaud.
Blomqvist salvages DTM top 10
Photo / BMW Motorsport
While Zandvoort was a happy hunting ground for Nick Cassidy, it was less so for Kiwi Tom Blomqvist.
The weekend started with an underwhelming result in first qualifying; 21st. He was able to progress to 16th in the subsequent race, but it still wasn't enough to claim any championship points.
But race two was an improvement. Starting from 11th, the driver progressed into the top 10 — finishing 10th after a heated dice with former New Zealand Toyota Racing Series driver Lucas Auer.
Read more about Nick Cassidy's European F3 weekend: Race one / race two / race three
Read more about 'Mad Mike' Whiddett's Canadian fling
Read more about Scott Dixon's disappointing Toronto run: Qualifying / race
Read more about Tom Blomqvist's Zandvoort DTM races: Race one / race two