Nick Cassidy is looking to finish in the top six consistently when he starts his second season in Japan’s Super Formula single seater series at Suzuka this Sunday (22 April).
The 23-year-old Aucklander was tenth in the championship last year, scoring just one podium place in the seven rounds.
“The goal is to reach the Qualifying 3 session and get points in every race,” said Cassidy.
“If we’re consistent then that should open up opportunities for more than that.”
Cassidy, like all his rivals, is having to adapt to several rule changes that have made the series more like Formula One.
“I’ve been training harder than ever,” said Cassidy. “Some of the races are now the same distance as Formula One Grand Prix – 300 kms. Physically they’re just as demanding as F1 so fitness is going to be really important.”
Last year, the races varied in length between 150 kms and 250 kms.
Formula One is the only single seater class which is faster than Super Formula, which uses two litre turbocharged motors with around 500 kWs.
Tactical strategies will also have to change, with the longest races requiring a fuel stop as well as the compulsory tyre change.
“We have only got soft and medium compound tyres this year,” said Cassidy. “And the soft tyres have a bigger drop off in performance.”
He has been encouraged by pre-season testing which saw the former New Zealand Grand Prix and Toyota Racing Series champion third fastest at the final day at the Fuji track.
“We had a test at the end of last season and were near the back,” said Cassidy. “We’ve had a good improvement over the four test days with a better test and development programme.”
“It’s been a solid step forward which is motivating.”
The main opposition is likely to be provided by four teams who have far more experience than Kondo Racing which prepares Cassidy’s car. Those teams have most of the top drivers, including last year’s champion, Hiroaki Ishiura, former Formula One drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi who also drive for Toyota in the World Endurance Sportscar Championship.
“There are eight to ten drivers who have good teams behind them and are likely to be fighting for those top six points positions,” said Cassidy.
He is one of only four foreign drivers in the championship which will again be run over seven rounds.