Nick Cassidy wins first-ever SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race

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SUPER GT frontrunner Nick Cassidy took a commanding lights-to-flag victory at Fuji Speedway to win the first-ever Dream Race joint-event between the Japanese GT series and DTM on Saturday.

The KeePer TOM’S Lexus LC500 driver was untroubled from pole position after fellow front-row starter Loïc Duval failed to make the grid after crashing on the installation lap. In the opening laps, the New Zealander quickly established a healthy lead over the chasing cars of Ronnie Quintarelli (MOTUL AUTECH Nissan GT-R) and Naoki Yamamoto (RAYBRIG Honda NSX-GT).

As Cassidy’s lead grew, he was able to recover from a slightly shaky pit-stop where his crew struggled to quickly switch both front wheels. Not even a late-race Safety Car period could halt his progress: despite the novelty of the new-to-SUPER GT Indy Car-style restart, Cassidy held off a late charge from Koudai Tsukakoshi, who finished second in his Keihin Honda NSX-GT, ahead of Yamamoto.

Tréluyer leads DTM contingent

Frenchman Benoît Tréluyer (Audi Sport Japan RS 5 DTM) emerged a slightly surprising victor of the seven-car DTM challenge, finishing sixth after steadily improving across the whole weekend. Behind him, 2019 champion René Rast (Audi Sport RS 5 DTM) finished eighth after spending most of his race embroiled in spirited scraps with a number of drivers, most notably Quintarelli, with whom he enjoyed a ding-dong battle, exchanging position as they fought into the Turn One hairpin.

Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport RS 5 DTM) started well from fourth place, but faded during the race, eventually getting pitched into a spin by Tréluyer as the field scrabbled through the tight Dunlop Corner after the restart. The German came home 13th.

BMW’s Kamui Kobayashi was another stand-out performer, enjoying a late-race scrap with Rockenfeller to finish 14th.

Fellow BMW drivers Marco Wittmann and Alex Zanardi both struggled: the German gambled on a first-lap pit-stop, but was later forced to make a second stop, eventually finishing 18th, a lap adrift. Zanardi only narrowly made the race after his crew discovered a technical issue on the installation lap. He was forced into the pits for a lengthy stop during the race, too, eventually rejoining for the closing laps, and finishing eight laps down.

Duval’s early exit

The drama begun before the race had even started for front-row starter Duval. The Frenchman locked up and slid into the barriers on the pre-race installation lap. The impact broke his left-front suspension and bodywork, leaving the car too extensively damaged to take part. His Audi RS 5 DTM will be repaired in time for Sunday’s race.

Cassidy untouchable in morning qualifying

In the morning’s qualifying period, Cassidy underlined his form, banging in a 1m41.827s quick-lap midway through the session. Despite a flurry of late-stops for fresh rubber to capitalise on a mildly drying track, nobody ultimately got close to the New Zealander’s time.

“We’d been quite strong all week, so I felt confident,” he said afterwards. “After my race in Hockenheim, I wanted to show we had good performance,” he added, referring to his brief guest outing in Germany, where he was punted out on the first lap.

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