The circuit that “punishes” newcomers to Japan’s racing scene

It takes loads of dedication and bravado for a racing driver to show their again on Europe or the US to go racing in Japan. In an unfamiliar nation, with unfamiliar automobiles and unfamiliar circuits, it is extremely arduous to adapt.

But, anybody who’s ever plied their commerce in both Tremendous Components or Tremendous GT waxes lyrical about their experiences; Andre Lotterer described the racing on the market as “pure”; the circuits aren’t designed with acres of run-off, and the automobiles are highly effective and grippy – Japan is an actual racer’s haven.

Nick Cassidy agrees. Though the 2019 Tremendous Components champion joined Components E for the 2020-21 season, the solid of Japanese circuits firmly stay in his coronary heart.

“I actually like tracks that punish errors,” Cassidy says. “Whether or not that is a road circuit, that is fairly excessive danger – or, for instance, one monitor that stands proud to me is Sugo in Japan, it’s totally excessive velocity, however little or no run off. It punishes errors.”

Circuits in Japan are designed to a really totally different code in comparison with these commissioned by F1; they are not designed for DRS zones or for the specific goal of making overtakes – they’re designed to be difficult. Sugo, a 2.3-mile circuit in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture a few half-hour’s drive from town of Sendai, is.

Certain, there’s flat-out straights – however there’s additionally tight nook complexes and high-speed sections that require the utmost dedication. “It is very excessive velocity and the automobiles clearly have loads of grip,” says Cassidy, who explains the physicality of racing in Japan requires drivers to be in peak situation. “After winter testing in Japan, your physique will get smashed,” he remembers. “It is the fittest I have been in my life!”

Cassidy says that the relative high speed and low run-off means Sugo can

Cassidy says that the relative excessive velocity and low run-off means Sugo can “punish errors”

Photograph by: Yasushi Ishihara

In 2015, Cassidy made his method to Japan and received the Japanese F3 title, after which jetted throughout to Europe to complete fourth within the 2016 European F3 standings. However dismayed by an absence of alternatives in Europe, Cassidy made the return to racing in Japan full-time for the next season. He’d raced in Tremendous GT alongside his F3 marketing campaign with the TOM’S squad’s GT500 Lexus, and elected to stay there – performing the customary dovetailing of duties with Kondo Racing in Tremendous Components.

Alongside Ryo Hirakawa, now certainly one of six custodians in Toyota’s WEC Hypercar assault, Cassidy claimed the 2017 Tremendous GT honours by two factors over NISMO duo Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli. The Hirakawa/Cassidy pairing completed as runners up within the subsequent two seasons, shedding out to Honda’s Naoki Yamamoto and Jenson Button in 2018, and Kazuya Oshima and Kenta Yamashita in ’19 – producing a title battle between the 2 Lexuses (or ought to that be Lexi?).

However Cassidy’s leads to Tremendous Components started to escalate over these two seasons, and was runner-up to Yamamoto once more in 2018 earlier than forging his personal profitable title marketing campaign in 2019 as he moved to TOM’S single-seater squad within the first 12 months with the Dallara SF19.

“By way of the quantity of driving that you simply do and being so adaptable, I reckon [racing in Japan is] top-of-the-line issues for a driver” Nick Cassidy

“However in ’18 in Tremendous Components I misplaced by six tenths within the final race, and the final race was [extra] factors [for the winner],” Cassidy remembers. “And the opposite man [Yamamoto] received the race and I used to be second so I misplaced that. Then 2020, I used to be about to win the championship, I took a pole at Suzuka with two races to go, I used to be main and my engine blew up. So I used to be actually shut to 3 titles in a row in Tremendous Components!”

In speaking about these close to misses with Autosport, we provide that it was as soon as once more shut in 2017, the place Pierre Gasly got here inside half some extent of profitable the Tremendous Components title. It’s uncommon {that a} driver loses a championship due to a storm, however the considerably inclement climate produced meant that the Suzuka double-header finale was known as off.

However Cassidy reckons that, within the top-level championships outdoors of Components 1, it’s at all times shut – notably as the general expertise stage of the drivers populating these classes is so excessive.

Cassidy's most recent Super Formula win came at Sugo in 2020

Cassidy’s most up-to-date Tremendous Components win got here at Sugo in 2020

Photograph by: Yasushi Ishihara

“It is in every single place I feel at a excessive stage, I imply, in the event you take a look at IndyCar in the mean time and the fellows there, they know the tracks, they know the automobiles and so they’ve been there for a very long time, they’re professionals. You are by no means going to stroll right into a championship like that and go straight to the highest, , in 12 months one. You may positively go shut. However clearly, it takes till 12 months two – take a look at Palou and McLaughlin – and actually, that 12 months two is the place you do the injury.

“And I feel Japan was the identical for me. 12 months one in Tremendous Components did not actually go to plan, then in 12 months two we had a very robust crack on the championship. And Components E once more, it is most likely not that you’ll get a rookie are available and win the championship in 12 months one anymore, particularly within the present technology. I am undecided about Gen3. However yeah, in every single place has bought massively proficient drivers on the prime.”

Whereas some may think about it a stretch to be constantly switching between two very totally different disciplines, Cassidy reckons that Japan’s regular set-up of doing a number of championships is extremely helpful for a driver.

“By way of the quantity of driving that you simply do and being so adaptable, I reckon it is top-of-the-line issues for a driver. You’ve got new circumstances on a regular basis, you are at all times driving totally different tyres, you are creating rather a lot. The tracks are the identical, however between the 2 automobiles, you are studying tips on how to adapt in a short time between the 2.

“In Tremendous Components you get, in apply, a really restricted quantity of tyres. So your first lap of the primary session is definitely crucial. It is type of much like Components E in a means on that respect. As a result of in Components E, from lap 1 on these road circuits which are absolutely soiled, we’re pushing – you have to be on the restrict. That is what makes it arduous as a rookie, and in Tremendous Components you type of had a component of that. It was an excellent studying curve.”

“And the Japanese drivers, they do one other championship known as Tremendous Taikyu, after which there’s one other championship as properly known as InterProto collection. So most of these guys are busy doing 4 championships!”

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Of his three Tremendous Components race wins, Cassidy’s final was at Sugo again in 2020. He at present holds the lap file across the circuit configuration utilized in automobile racing – a 1m06.350s – whereas driving for Staff TOM’S. “I feel that model of circuit is, for me, probably the most thrilling,” he provides wistfully. One will get the sensation that if Components E ever lands an E-Prix in Japan, the Kiwi would be the first on the aircraft.

Cassidy says there are common challenge between Super Formula and his current Formula E home

Cassidy says there are widespread problem between Tremendous Components and his present Components E dwelling

Photograph by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Photos

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