Racing heroes Fenestraz & Cassidy make return to Japan

Join Formula E

Sign in or create your Formula E account

It's quick, easy and free to sign up

You'll get access to:

  • Helmet

    News. Analysis. Exclusive Features

  • Schedule

    Priority Booking. Early Bird Pricing

  • Trophy

    Competitions. Discounts. Experiences

  • Podium

    Predict. Vote. Win.

TO CONTINUE READING...

You will need to sign in or create a Formula E account.

Racing heroes Fenestraz & Cassidy make return to Japan

Nissan's Sacha Fenestraz and Jaguar TCS Racing's Nick Cassidy are big racing heroes in Japan, with titles and trophies aplenty between them. Here's the story of their time racing in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Nick-Cassidy-07

While racing in Tokyo is a first for Formula E, for some of its seasoned drivers, Japan is very familiar territory indeed. Enter Nissan's Sasha Fenestraz and Jaguar TCS Racing's Nick Cassidy, who both gained impressive track records while racing in Japan.

WATCH: How to watch or stream Formula E's Tokyo E-Prix where you are

From Super Formula, Super GT and Japanese Formula Three, Fenestraz and Cassidy covered them all during their time there, collecting championship titles and trophies in the process. We catch up with both of them ahead of the inaugural Formula E race on the streets of Tokyo.

"My career took off in Japan and it's where I got my chance in motorsport, so I'm really looking forward to going back," says Cassidy ahead of the race in the country's capital city on March 30th. "I spent a large period of my racing career in Japan, and I'm ready to return with fantastic memories."

After cutting his teeth in karting, Formula First and Formula Ford championships in his home country of New Zealand and Australia, Cassidy made his debut in the Toyota Racing Series in 2011, alongside fellow Kiwi and Formula E teammate, Mitch Evans.

READ MORE: The Formula E grid previews the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix

"I'd been in the Toyota Racing Series for a couple of years in New Zealand, racing in a five-week series against European drivers - I wasn't really good enough, or successful enough," he admits. Despite his views on his time in the series, Cassidy accumulated five podium finishes and won an impressive two out of three races in the final race weekend - enough to finish as runner-up behind Evans and claim Rookie of the Year title.

With the experience under his belt, Cassidy moved to Europe, taking on Formula Renault and then Formula Three with British team T Sport. After competing in the final two rounds of the European Championship, he headed to the blue-ribbon Macau Grand Prix, where he secured an impressive debut podium in 2014.

The debut podium and his time in Formula Three catapulted Cassidy's career into Japanese motorsport, where he established himself as one of the rising stars – racing in both open-wheel and GT racing through the Super Formula and Super GT championships.

"I had a great result in Macau, which put me in front of Toyota and the teams from Japan," Cassidy recalls. "This got me a test at the Fuji Speedway, which was an awesome opportunity and I ended up getting the drive with the TOM'S." From there, Cassidy took up duel driving duties in the Super Formula and Super GT championships with the team. "Toyota kind of pulled me under their wing and backed me, which saw me work together with TOM'S for six years," he adds.

Continuing his rise in Japan, Cassidy claimed the Super GT title in 2017, before sealing the Drivers' Championship honours in the 2019 Super Formula season. "I did manage to win a couple of championships there and it was pretty successful for me," he admits.

Rounding off his time in Japan that same year, Cassidy jumped at the chance to test for Envision Racing, taking the team’s offer of a seat at the championship's rookie test back in March 2020 in Marrakesh. "I had the opportunity to the rookie test in Formula E and I felt like I wanted a new challenge. At Formula E, the level here is outstanding with drivers, teams manufacturers, and it was something I wanted to be part of. I just wanted to keep challenging myself as a person."

Now back in Japan, the Tokyo E-Prix can be considered something of a home race for Cassidy. "The Japanese fans are very passionate about their motorsport, so I'm hoping I can give them something to cheer about."

"If [Formula E] can unlock a new fan base and really help us snowball in terms of viewership and how the series is viewed all around the world, then that's amazing."

Sacha Fenestraz Season 10 Nissan

For Nissan driver Sacha Fenestraz, Tokyo will be an even greater affair. Not only has he secured a fair amount of success while racing in Japan, the 24-year-old is racing for Japanese automotive giant, Nissan, just miles from its headquarters in Yokohama.

"I'm extremely excited, of course - I did a big part of my career in Japan so going back there will be awesome and I cannot wait for the race," says Fenestraz.

Before his time in Formula E, the French-Argentine driver spent four years racing in Japan, covering off Japanese Formula Three, Super GT and Super Formula in the process. Moving to the country in 2019, he secured a seat with B-Max Racing with Motopark in Japanese Formula Three and also with Kondo Racing in Super GT the same year. Fighting throughout the season with TOM'S racer Ritomo Miyata, Fenestraz claimed eight wins and secured the title at Motegi with a round to spare, becoming the first rookie driver to win the title since Nick Cassidy in 2015.

Living and racing in Japan throughout the pandemic put a strain on Fenestraz's racing career, with lockdowns hampering the movement of people and motorsport across the country. Racing in Super Formula for Kondo Racing and TOM'S in Super GT from 2019 to 2022, there was a five-race gap in 2021 in both his Super GT and Super Formula CV, when Fenestraz was prevented from entering the country due to a combination of visa issues and Covid travel restrictions. "In 2021 I couldn't enter Japan until the last two races," he said in an interview with Autosport in 2022.

satusiya-huenesutorazu-sacha-f

Coming back even stronger, he finished the 2022 Super Formula season runner-up behind Tomoki Nojiri, while managing sixth place in the Super GT championship behind the wheel of his Toyota GR Supra GT500. Clocking up a total of 12 podium finishes across the single-seater and sports car categories, Fenestraz rounded off his racing career in Japan with a breadth of skills behind the wheel.

Moving into Formula E full-time ahead of season nine with Nissan, Fenestraz is still finding his feet in the series but will be looking to score points in front of an adoring 'home' crowd in Tokyo.

"I know how amazing and crazy the Japanese fans are, so that will make it even more special," he says ahead of the race. "It's the first time the team and Formula E are going to Japan, so we are looking forward to seeing all the amazing support in the grandstands. It will be almost like a home race for me, the track looks really interesting so I'm excited to go racing!"

SCHEDULE: Where, when and how to watch or stream the 2024 Tokyo E-Prix Round 5

The Tokyo E-Prix gets underway on Friday 29 March with Free Practice 1 at 16:30 local time.

WATCH: How to watch or stream Formula E's Tokyo E-Prix where you are

Then it's on to race day on Saturday 30 March as Free Practice 2 kicks off the day at 08:00 local, qualifying follows at 10:20 local with lights out on Round 4 at 15:00 local/06:00 UTC.

View the full schedule in your time zone and check the broadcaster listings or tap the Ways to Watch button above to find out where to watch all the racing action where you live.