ASIAN WRAP: Cassidy extends Super GT points lead
Super GT Championship
New Zealander Nick Cassidy has extended his lead in Japan’s Super GT championship despite finishing sixth in Round 3 at Autopolis.
Cassidy, whose #37 KeePer Team TOM Lexus LC500 was carrying the greatest success ballast, qualified fifth for the 300km affair and ran in the same position until he pitted to hand over the car to Ryo Hirakawa.
The Japanese driver entered the circuit in eighth after a slow pit stop, inherited one position due to an incident in front, and gained another before the chequered flag.
Fellow Team TOM pairing Kazuki Nakajima and James Rossiter won the race from seventh on the grid after a strong opening stint from the Englishman.
Nakajima crossed the line first after a vigorous battle with Kohei Hirate in another Lexus LC500, the pair making contact which ended the latter’s race and allowed Nakajima free passage home.
Cassidy and Hirakawa are joint championship leaders by four points over Rossiter.
In GT300 class, Australian Jake Parsons and Shinnosuke Yamada finished 14th, one lap off the pace of the class winners.
Cassidy is next in action at Round 2 of the Super Formula Championship at Okayama from May 27-28, while Round 4 of Super GT will be held at Sugo on July 22-23.
Blancpain GT Series Asia
Mitchell Gilbert has lost the lead of the inaugural Blancpain GT Series Asia after a DNF in Race 3 of the season at the Buriram United International Circuit.
Gilbert copped a hit in the side of his #86 OD Audi R8 from Hunter Abbott at the third corner, causing the Malaysian-born Australian to spin.
The winner of Race 1 of the season was forced to pit and while he and co-driver Aditya Patel ultimately completed 21 laps, they fell too far short of the winner’s 34 laps to be classified as a finisher.
Rino Mastronardi and Rui Aguas won the race in their #38 Spirit of Race SA Ferrari 488, while Australian Aidan Read and Alberto Di Folco were 12th in their #1 FFF Lamborghini Huracan.
Abbott and Maxi Buhk, who were issued a 30-second post-race penalty for the incident with Gilbert, won Race 4 of the season on the following day in the #999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG.
Gilbert and Patel finished on the bottom step of the podium, having started 11th, thanks to a charging drive home by the former.
Read and Di Folco finished 6th.
Abbott leads the series but Gilbert and Patel are only five points adrift ahead of Races 5 and 6 at Suzuka from June 24-25.