Toyota Racing Series champion Nick Cassidy has secured a contract to race in Europe with leading British team Fortec Motorsport in the 2012 Formula Renault Eurocup series.
Seventeen year old Aucklander Cassidy won the 2012 Toyota Racing Series, the 2012 New Zealand Grand Prix and the NZ Motor Cup. He led the five-round championship from the second round onward, amassing a total of 914 points. He won five races out of the 15 in the championship, standing on the podium a total of ten times.
Cassidy tested with Fortec in October last year at Barcelona’s challenging Circuit de Catalunya in a Formula Renault 2.0 litre car. The drive was awarded to him by Renault Sport and TRS for winning the Rookie of the Year title in TRS 2011. TRS Category Manager Barrie Thomlinson says he made a strong impression at the test, recording second fastest time of the morning on old tyres.
A mechanical problem meant he did not get to run new tyres in the afternoon, but his morning performance was enough to convince Fortec boss Richard Dutton of his potential.
“As soon as Nick started working with us we had a good feeling and his morning performance in Barcelona left us in no doubt as to his potential. His outstanding performances in winning the TRS this year confirmed our initial impression during the test and I’m pleased that a budget has come together that will allow Nick to race in Europe this year. The Eurocup is a tough series, but I have no doubt Nick will quickly establish himself,” Dutton says.
One of Cassidy’s team mates will be the highly rated British driver Oliver Rowland, winner of the 2011 McLaren Autosport Young Driver Award, who will provide excellent reference and comparison for the young Kiwi.
Cassidy says the drive is a dream come true.
“I’ve been working towards racing in Europe from the moment I started karting, so to have this opportunity to race with Fortec is still hard to believe. Racing in the Eurocup is the first step in pursuing my ultimate objective. I’m under no illusions as to how hard it will be and how much work has to be done, but I’m determined to make the most of this great chance,” he said.
“I believe that if I adopt the same mature and measured approach I can be successful in this European championship.”
“It’s one step at a time, six months ago the challenge was to find the budget for the Toyota Series and to win it, so in a similar way I don’t want to get ahead of myself by thinking too far ahead, I just want to focus on making the most of this chance to race in Europe.”
The Toyota Racing Series provides a uniquely competitive single seat category in the southern hemisphere in partnership with Motorsport NZ, with the objective of developing young talent who aspire to compete on the global motorsport stage.
In 2012, 15 international and six New Zealand drivers contested the championship, with racers coming to the five week, five round series from a total of 12 countries.
Cassidy is the fourth New Zealand driver to step up from TRS into significant European race drives.
The category’s first race winner, Brendon Hartley, went from TRS to racing with Red Bull. In 2007 he won the Formula Renault Eurocup title – the same series Nick Cassidy will now contest – and continues his motorsport career in Europe. Richie Stanaway has stepped up from TRS, now starting his third season in Europe he is contracted to drive for the Gravity Management Team. Mitch Evans, the 2010 and 2011 TRS champion, will compete in his second season of GP3 in Europe this year with MW Arden under the experienced eye of F1 driver Mark Webber.
Toyota’s ten year commitment to the series and to New Zealand motorsport is now in its eighth year and Toyota General Manager Finance John Fowke says the series is meeting its objective as never before.
“A decade ago, Toyota saw a need to provide this crucial step for young racers – out of junior categories and up to full-on ‘wings and slicks’ current technology race cars. From the beginning this series has delivered drivers into overseas opportunities race fit and ready for the next challenge in their careers. It is fantastic to see another New Zealand driver benefit from the single-seat development platform the TRS offers.”
Mr Fowke says Nick Cassidy’s victory in this year’s Toyota Racing Series augers well for his competitiveness in Europe.
“We wish Nick every success as he continues on his motor racing career.”
21 February, 2012
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