Nick Cassidy on the rise? Kiwi racer stuns Formula E paddock with lap record
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One of New Zealand's most excellent but also most unsung motorsport exports, Nick Cassidy, emerged as the star of the FIA Formula E's rookie test event at Marrakesh on the weekend.
The event was tied in with round four of electric championship 's 2019–’20 calendar in Morocco. Following his clear-cut Mexico ePrix victory last month, Mitch Evans finished sixth to consolidate second in the series standings — recovering from a last-place start following a team miscalculation in qualifying. Antonio Felix da Costa took the win, becoming the new points leader and the fifth different race winner in as many races.
The rookie test held almost as much interest as the race itself, as teams up and down pit-lane took a look at the category's potential future stars. And it was Cassidy, driving with Envision Virgin, that shone brightest. The former Castrol Toyota Racing Series champ clocked a 1:16.467 in the day's afternoon session — a new lap record.
He ended the session with a big five-tenth buffer to Sergio Sette Camara (2019 McLaren F1 test driver) in second, with Filipe Albuquerque (DTM, WEC LMP1, LMP2), Nicolas Lapierre (LMP1, LMP2), Kyle Kirkwood (Indy Pro 2000), Norman Nato (F2), Jake Hughes (F3), Lucas Auer (TRS, Super Formula), Kelvin van der Linde (factory Audi Sport GT driver), and Sacha Fenetraz (F3, Super GT) in 10th.
Other notable drivers to take part in the test include W Series champ Jamie Chadwick, Porsche factory GT driver Frederic Makowiecki, and former Gran Turismo Academy winner Jann Mardenborough.
It capped off an incredibly busy week for Cassidy, having been confirmed earlier on as returning to the TOM's Toyota Japanese Super Formula fold to defend his memorable maiden 2019 title (bolstering a deal to return to Super GT with Lexus). Curiously, despite winning the title with the team, Cassidy was among the last drivers to be confirmed for the 2020 Super Formula season — having been missing from the brand's 2020 roster that it revealed in early February.
The delayed announcement fed into speculation that Cassidy could be considered to be driving elsewhere in 2020. The Formula E season winds down in July and is expected to restart in late November, meaning that a 2020–’21 deal wouldn't clash with Cassidy's existing calendars.
His name continues to be one often banied as a driver that should be on the fringe of Formula 1, but Formula E supplies more opportunities — and more of those, in turn, are paid opportunities. Such an announcement could also mean a grand total of three Kiwis competing in the series simultaneously.
“It’s been great to finally step into the car and I’ve learnt a huge amount from the test today in Marrakesh,” Cassidy said following the test. “It’s a lot different to my previous experience but I felt we had a great test programme and I hope that I’ve managed to help the team with what they were wanting to achieve. The car had great pace and to come away with the fastest time ever at the Marrakesh circuit is an awesome feeling too.”