Nick Cassidy wins second NZ Grand Prix
Kiwi racer Nick Cassidy wrote his name into the history books at Manfeild this afternoon as the youngest ever driver to win two New Zealand Grand Prix titles.
Cassidy, 18, backed up his 2012 win, adding the 58th edition of the Grand Prix to his ever growing open-wheel CV.
After today that CV also includes successive Toyota Racing Series championships as he held off a strong international field with a classy display that belied his years.
A visibly delighted Cassidy led the Grand Prix from the first corner, overtaking British teammate Alex Lynn with a sublime start.
''It's a pretty unbelievable feeling right now, I can't really say whether last year was better than this year but it was great.''
Cassidy only won one race in the 15-race series before the Grand Prix, but the boy from Auckland has been a model of consistency, finishing in the top four of all but two races in the 2013 championship.
Lynn tracked Cassidy all race and was rewarded with a strong second place to move him above Austrian Lucas Auer in the championship.
Auer was arguably the quickest all weekend but electrical difficulties in qualifying and a bizarre penalty in the first race of the day saw him forced to make his way through the pack from 13th to fifth in the Grand Prix a result that pushed him down to third in the championship.
For Cassidy, it was sweet reward for a year which has seen him develop into a driver of genuine international ability.
''Our starts all year have been great, it was only this morning where we went anything other than forward and again this afternoon we shot out.
''The way our tyre pressures were set, I knew I would be stronger towards the end of the race so the key was getting out in those first couple of laps.
''Once I did that I knew I could just control it.''
The 35-lap race was marred with incident, with three minor crashes bringing out yellow flags.
It forced Cassidy to hold his nerve on the restarts, something he managed with aplomb.
''Both me and Alex [Lynn] knew there would be yellow flags and so once I was in front I didn't bother trying to extend my lead too far because he would just come back to me under yellow.
''Our tyres were almost too good by the end, we just got better and better.''
Cassidy is now looking to head to Europe for Formula 3 racing, but a lack of funding could hold him back.
''To be honest I started the day with nothing in the bank and now I've got $5000 so nothing's really changed.
''It's the only issue we have at the moment - that it all comes down to funding.''
Dutch driver Steijn Schotenhorst rounded out the podium with a strong weekend.
Legendary 71-year-old racer Kenny Smith finished his 47th New Zealand Grand Prix in 16th.
- © Fairfax NZ News