SUPER GT Rd.5 Suzuka

After one stirring, long race  A. Caldarelli in 5th, A. Couto in 6th with points gained for both drivers!


13gt5-GEN02Round 5 of the 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, the 42nd “International Pokka Sapporo 1000km” race was staged at Suzuka Circuit over August 17th to the 18th on a truly grand scale again this year as a key motorsports event fiesta of the midsummer, always characterized by being a long race of 6 hours! Usually held during the highest peak of summer holidays, a large number of GT fans gather about the circuit each year.

13gt5-GEN01And again this time, amid the heat everyone stayed “glued” to watching the fierce battling go on till the last minutes and seconds of the Race!  (Audience figures:  26,500 on Saturday, 36,000 on Sunday)



August 17th (SAT)  Official Qualifying



13gt5-CAL01On Saturday with a great stretch of summer skies spreading above, from 9:20am, the official practice session of 2 hours got off to a start. The machines of the two classes GT500 (15 cars) and GT300 (24) entered the course all together at once, each working on the setting and affirming of the machine conditions.

From this session, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S positioned 4th with the time of 1’53.040, and LEXUS TEAM WedsSport BANDOH in 11th position as recording 1’53.877, and confirmed their proceed ahead for qualifying session in the afternoon.


13gt5-CAL03At 14:00 (Air temp: 34 degrees C / Track temp.: 45 degrees C), first the qualifying session (the Q1) by the GT300 began, then followed by the Q1 of the GT500 class.

The driver to take car No. 37 KeePer TOM’S SC430 to the field first was Andrea’s teammate Daisuke Ito, who marked the 6th position time (1’53.399) and brought the team to move ahead to Q2 which is a heat amongst the top 8 qualifiers. Then, at 15:00, in charge of pursuing the time-attacking in Q2, Andrea Caldarelli took control of the car also slightly renewing the time (1’53.216) but even then finished this session standing at 7th. The hopeful Italian SUPER GT driver commented, “The over-steer we felt this morning was improved a little, but still, the setting is not adapting as much to the track surface”. 


13gt5-COU01Meanwhile, Andre Couto on No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 exhibited some strong time-attacking pursuits in Q1 but for Saturday could only settle to 12th position (with the time of 1’54.250).  Nonetheless, “These tyres should perform quite stably especially in the long run, so we should be competent and have good chances to fight through such a race like tomorrow’s”, said Andre highly-motivated and driven towards Sunday’s big battle.





August 18 (SUN)  RACE


T13gt5-CAL02he morning of the Race Day began with the temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (Track temp. 30 degrees C), and from 8:30 am the 30 minutes of Free Practice Session began. Couto and Ara pair as making final checks into their WedsSport ADVAN SC430 clocked a 1’56.682 (P12), and Caldarelli/Ito pair timed 1’58.333 (P14) with KeePer TOM’S SC430 from this session, and waited for the start of the Race.













13gt5-GEN03Thus, the Start for a long battle of 173 laps struck the gong at 12:30, two hours before the usual SUPER GT round. Towards the goal of 1000km ahead, the race got underway at 12:30 sharp! Air temperature read 34 degrees Celsius, and on the track 47 degrees C at this time point, and now the hot summer fight broke out with 38 cars storming out towards the goal of many kilometers to go!







13gt5-COU08In this race where four pit stops are mandated for everyone, almost every team scheduled to make five stints. On LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S, the first stint was entrusted to veteran driver, Daisuke Ito. Rolling-start from the 7th on grid, car No. 37 chalked steady laps retaining that position and gradually rose to 5th position as watching the rivals all go in to make early pit stops. Eventually, after running 33 laps, No. 37 went to the pit for tyre change, refueling, and also driver change with Andrea Caldarelli in charge of the second stint. Andrea held on strong to P5 all through his stint until making a pit-in on the 69th lap when the SC entered the field. Then Ito, in charge of the third stint went back out again; only however a rival who had just finished pit-stop, there grabbed away the lead, and when the SC withdrew and the race was to re-start again, car 37 in the KeePer color somewhat paced down on around the 100th lap, and drew back to P8.

13gt5-CAL06Then soon, while one of the cars having to position down issued with a penalty for misconduct during the SC, Ito in 7th place strived ever harder in the fight for P6 with another car, no. 36. Gradually however, the pace somewhat dropped and the position went down to P8 again. On the 106th lap of the race, Ito brought the car back into the pit and after another switch-over, now Andrea Caldarelli was up again to begin the 4th stint. The mighty Italian SUPER GT driver gave a strong push throughout, running at 7th. Then, as passing a few machines that either lost positions by penalty, or by losing ground such as coursing-off Andrea worked the way back to 6th and held onto that position for another while. Upon finishing the 141st lap, the car was then given to teammate Daisuke Ito again. Ito also gave his utmost push till the end, and thus the team achieved a 5th place finish, 6 points gained.


13gt5-CAL05Andrea CALDARELLI

“It was really a tough race, – hot and a long. In my first stint, we did not have to worry so much about under-steer, and could push quite a bit with confidence but in the second stint as perhaps the track temperature lowered, with even a slight push, we could almost spin out and I was really driving on the edge! But in any case we are glad to win some points. Please do count on us, also in the next round, – Gambarimasu! (we’ll give our best) ”






13gt5-COU0213gt5-COU05In the LEXUS TEAM WedsSport BANDOH, first it was Andre Couto who was appointed the starting driver. Thus, Couto assumed his responsibilities to drive the first stint. With his settled and consistent driving, the Portuguese veteran driver, Andre Couto ran at a constant pace, and on the 30th lap, the team was up to P8!  When it came to the 34th lap the car was now handed to teammate Seiji Ara.  Ara continued on with a consistent pace, running at P9 and came back to the pit on the 69th lap, just during the SC run. Then with Andre conducting the WedsSport ADVAN SC430 again, and also by a speedy pit-work the team hiked up to position 5!  Couto then passed another machine that dropped down due to a penalty, and kept pushing on strong for P4. From the 107th lap, Seiji Ara took the steering but however, on the 132nd lap getting caught in traffic of the GT300 cars the car coursed off! And after that, having been passed by two other machines No. 19 was down to P6. Couto taking over the car in that position and in charge of the final stint the team kept up the stride giving constant lap times and was chequered in 6th place, with 5 points gained.










“It was nice to have finished in 6th place, though starting from P12. In this race, the machine balance and tyre performances were good, so I really enjoyed the race. We owe this to everyone in the team, and also to Yokohama tires. Let’s try to stay on this good note throughout the last half of the season. Please give us your warm support”.



The next round, SUPER GT Round 6 will be held on September 7 – 8, at Fuji Speedway.