Nick Cassidy will return to defend his Super Formula championship title in 2020 after agreeing a new deal to run with Vantelin Team TOM’S.
The New Zealander was a shock omission from the initial entry list, although his seat with TOM’S remained vacant, and the reigning champion will return to the team that took him to the title in 2019.
Cassidy won the season opener at the Suzuka International Racing Course in 2019 and took three further podium finishes as he finished three points clear of Naoki Yamamoto at the head of the standings.
“It’s great to be able to have the chance to defend the championship,” said Cassidy to Motorsport.com. “I’m under no illusions that will be very tough, but we were improving at a good rate last year and we ended the season very strong, so I expect that to continue.
“Because of that progression at the end of last year, I wasn’t considering any team other than TOM’S within Toyota. It’s a very natural thing for me to continue.
“There are some regulation changes this year that don’t necessarily help Toyota; if anything it may work against us. But that’s something we’ll have to live with and we’ll do our best.
“Again, I’m up against Kazuki [Nakajima], who is one of the fastest and most proven guys in the championship, so I’m also not expecting that to be easy. After last year he’ll be doing everything to come back strong so I’m looking forward to that challenge as well.”
Cassidy revealed that there were a few small delays in signing the contract that prevented him from being announced with the rest of the Toyota roster, but he is delighted to be remaining with TOM’S into 2020.
“We had agreed a deal but things weren’t on paper, so there was a small delay,” said Cassidy. “But it was nothing unusual. It raised some questions, which wasn’t ideal, but I’ve been with TOM’S for five years and nothing was going to change there.
“They feel like my family so I’m happy to announce it now and it’s nice to be able to announce it individually.”
Real Racing Drop Off Grid for 2020
Cassidy’s announcement means the full grid for 2020 has been confirmed, with Real Racing having opted to sit out the season, bringing Honda‘s car count for the season to nine compared to the eleven of Toyota.
The Honda-powered outfit will focus on its Super GT team that fields Koudai Tsukakoshi and Bertrand Baguette this season before looking at returning to Super Formula in 2021.
“We are aiming to be back on the Super Formula stage next season,” said a statement from Real Racing. “We would like to thank our fans, sponsors, and stakeholders, it was pleasure to have their support. Please wait momentarily until our Super Formula activity begins again.
“We will put 110 percent into SUPER GT and come together as a team to get victory this season. We truly thank you for your support.”