Fuji Dream Race: Cassidy wins, DTM challenge fades

TOM'S Lexus driver Nick Cassidy took a lights-to-flag victory in the opening leg of the SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race at Fuji, as front-row starter Loic Duval crashed on his way to the grid.

Poleman Cassidy took the rolling start alone on the front row after Duval aquaplaned on the damp track during a sighting lap and hit the barriers, terminally damaging his Audi RS5 DTM.

The New Zealander then stretched his legs ahead of the Hondas of Naoki Yamamoto and Koudai Tsukakoshi, his advantage peaking at seven seconds before the pitstops.

Cassidy was among the last to pit, doing so on lap 19 of 34, and on his fresher rubber he was able to extend the gap ahead of his pursuers, before the Safety Car was deployed on lap 29 to retrieve Daiki Sasaki's stricken Impul Nissan GT-R.

But the TOM'S driver was just able to resist the pressure from the Real Racing NSX-GT of Tsukakoshi to take victory by a scant 0.433s.

Yamamoto - who is racing alone in the Kunimitsu Honda this weekend with Jenson Button absent, completed the podium five seconds behind Cassidy, having slipped behind Tsukakoshi during the first stint and failing to keep up with the lead duo after the restart.

SUPER GT champion Kenta Yamashita took fourth in the LeMans Lexus after passing Sho Tsuboi's Bandoh Lexus on the penultimate lap.

Audi driver Benoit Treluyer was the top DTM finisher in sixth after coming out on top in a thrilling last-lap battle.

Rene Rast had been the top DTM runner for much of the distance as Audi stablemate Mike Rockenfeller, the top representative on the grid for the German series after Duval's crash, rapidly slid down the order in the closing stages.

Rast took the restart in eighth but was passed by one-time SUPER GT champion Treluyer, who then found a way by Yuhi Sekiguchi in the second TOM'S Lexus.

Yuji Tachikawa (Cerumo Lexus) and Hideki Mutoh (Mugen Honda) completed the top 10 ahead of the best of the Nissan finishers, Frederic Makowiecki (B-Max Racing) in 11th.

Ronnie Quintarelli had run second behind Cassidy in the early laps but dropped to the lower reaches of the top 10 during the opening stint and finished 12th.

Kamui Kobayashi, racing a DTM car for the first time, was best of the BMW contingent in 14th.

Marco Wittmann was one of two drivers - the other being Tadasuke Makino (Nakajima Racing Honda) - to start on wet tyres, and finished a lapped 18th after an early stop to return to slicks left him a long way adrift of the pack.

Alex Zanardi was classified 21st and last after an engine issue left him 18 laps down.

Race results:

Pos. Driver Car Gap
1. New Zealand Nick Cassidy TOM'S Lexus LC500 34 laps
2. Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi Real Honda NSX-GT +0.433
3. Japan Naoki Yamamoto Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT +5.862
4. Japan Kenta Yamashita LeMans Lexus LC500 +6.974
5. Japan Sho Tsuboi Bandoh Lexus LC500 +9.966
6. France Benoit Treluyer WRT-Audi RS 5 +11.242
7. Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi SARD Lexus LC500 +11.369
8. Germany Rene Rast Rosberg-Audi RS 5 +11.540
9. Japan Yuji Tachikawa Cerumo Lexus LC500 +13.421
10. Japan Hideki Mutoh Mugen Honda NSX-GT +13.426
11. France Frederic Makowiecki B-Max Racing Nissan GT-R +15.648
12. Italy Ronnie Quintarelli NISMO Nissan GT-R +15.764
13. Germany Mike Rockenfeller Abt-Audi RS 5 +18.790
14. Japan Kamui Kobayashi RBM BMW M4 + 18.929
15. Japan Takuya Izawa ARTA Honda NSX-GT +19.832
16. Japan Kazuki Nakajima SARD Lexus LC500 +20.524
17. United Kingdom Jann Mardenborough Kondo Nissan GT-R +22.480
18. Germany Marco Wittmann RBM BMW M4 +1 lap
19. Japan Daiki Sasaki Impul Nissan GT-R +7 laps
20. Japan Tadasuke Makino Nakajima Honda NSX-GT +10 laps
21. Italy Alex Zanardi RBM BMW M4 +18 laps
NS France Loic Duval Phoenix-Audi RS 5 --
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