Overlooked champion: the story of Nick Cassidy, NZ's next F1 hopeful
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Motorsport in Asia is an interesting thing. A little like Australia, the sport has a history of isolation. Categories like Super GT are massive locally, but only produce a drip-feed of drivers that spring board to Europe, America, and beyond.
But in recent years, Europe in particular has started taking Japan much more seriously. There's a recent Formula 1 champ in Super GT (although not for long, admittedly), and — perhaps more to the point — Japan's Super Formula open-wheel championship is growing in stature.
It's growing to the point that it's being taken very seriously as a feeder category for Formula 1, with its stars earning a lot of coveted FIA Super License Points to aid with Formula 1 eligibility.
This year's champion? A Kiwi.
Nick Cassidy is a known quantity in New Zealand as a former Toyota Racing Series champ. But much lesser known is the incredible level of achievement he's had in Japan since joining Toyota's factory fold.
Against a field dotted with Formula 1 affiliated hopefuls (like Alex Palau, Lucas Auer, and the charismatic Dan Ticktum), Cassidy showed remarkable consistency to clinch the title at Suzuka on the weekend.
It's important to note the scale of the achievement. Cassidy now shapes up as a well rounded, well credentialed driver on the fringe of the Formula 1 paddock (with Red Bull athlete status, to boot). And, the title arrives as retribution after a nail biting narrow title loss last season. Globally speaking, it's arguably a bigger achievement than a Supercars and Bathurst title pair combined.
We now hope to see Cassidy claim a rare Japanese championship double. He's well in contention of claiming a second Super GT title this weekend at Twin Ring Motegi.
But, in the meantime, check out this fascinating documentary insight [posted above] into the final round of Super Formula. Cassidy's been blogging his exploits in Japan throughout 2019 to rather hilarious effect, but this final video showcase is something pretty special in its own right. Enjoy.