SUPER GT Rd.8 Motegi

A.Caldarelli in 6th place, A.Couto in 10th to close the 2013 SUPER GT season


13gt8-CAL03Round 8 of the AUTOBACS SUPER GT Series now made a touch down on the season’s end, – the closing round over November 2nd and the 3rd at Twin Ring Motegi (in Tochigi Prefecture). Upon this final battling of the year, the weight-handicaps imposed on everybody according to the Series’ ranking were reset to zero, and with everyone now standing “even” on one line, this was a stage where each machine’s true capabilities had to be exhibited, even apart from the fact that it was also the “champion-deciding” race for 2013!

13gt8-COU08And moreover, because every GT500 machine will be changed according to the new technical regulations from next year, thousands of motor-sporting fans gathered about, not only to see a crucial fight for the Title take place, but also to take the last look at the gallant of the existing machines make their final appearance. (Attendance figures as officially announced:  Nov. 2 – 14,500, Nov. 3 – 30,000 spectators)


November 2nd (SAT)  Official Qualifying


13gt8-CAL02Though clouds spread above the track on Saturday morning, from 9:00 to 11:00 according to the given schedule the two hours of Official Practice session got underway. In the order of Daisuke Ito up first, then Andrea Caldarelli, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S (No. 37) up next, the team made setups and checks into the machine, and positioned 6th (1’42.386) in the free practice.








At LEXUS TEAM WedsSport BANDOH (No. 19), Seiji Ara was in charge of the first half of the session, followed by Andre Couto driving but after just eight laps, a trouble with the transmission became apparent. Therefore, the machine had to be stalled on the trackside without being able to fulfill the session, and with their best time of 1’42.808 marked, the team placed 12th and shifted to solving problems, working towards the Official Qualifying in the afternoon.



Soon after the first qualifying (Q1) for the GT300 class, Q1 for the GT500 class followed starting at 14:19 and lasted for 15 minutes.



13gt8-CAL08Veteran driver Daisuke Ito conducted No. 37 KeePer TOM’S SC430 in the Q1 and clocked the time (1’42.305) for 8th position and the advance to the Q2. Then from 15:05, the Italian young SUPER GT driver Andrea Caldarelli in charge of driving the Q2 where 8 machines participate, raised one position up with the time of 1’42.323, and delivered a 7th position result.


Andrea Caldarelli

“We made slight adjustments to the car since the free practice, moved onto Q2 where we were able to gain one position up. But from the pole position time (of 1’41.367) we are still about 1 second behind which is a large gap, and we should definitely try finding the cause and the right solution to prepare us for the race tomorrow.”



13gt8-COU02On No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430, where Andre Couto gave his time-attacking pursuits could only settle to 12th position (1’42,558) from all of Saturday, without ever being able to advance to the Q2 fought by the top 8 qualifiers.


Andre Couto

“In this morning’s free practice, the under-steer was quite awful so we fixed the machine and the driving became easier. The nice thing is that our setting job on the machine is going well towards tomorrow, so let’s be optimistic as we continue our efforts to have a good race on Sunday.”



November 3rd (SUN)  RACE


13gt8-COU03Weather improved from the previous day. At the time when the Free Practice was set to begin on Sunday morning (8:50 – 9:20), there was still some fog but which caused no hindrances to the sessions. Ara/Couto on No. 19 marked the top time (1’43.681) from this session, and Ito/Caldarelli on No. 37 positioned 7th (1’44.557).


Eventually, by 13:30 under pleasant weather and the sun shining mildly (Air temp. 20 degrees Celsius, Track temp. 26 degrees C), hence the 53 laps of the very last race of the season fired up and hurled into the season’s-final big battle!




13gt8-CAL06Andrea Caldarelli on LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S took off with a rolling start from 7th position, but drew back to 9th in the opening lap, and further on the 6th lap could not hold off the same team, No. 36, and as getting passed lost some more positions down to P10. As finishing off the 19th lap, Andrea brought the car to the pit for tyre change, refueling and the switch of driver to Daisuke Ito. Ito took over giving a constant push, regained some positions up and by the 26th lap was back running in P8, and by the 31st lap farther up to P7. On the 48th lap which was already in the range of last laps, position was improved another notch higher to 6th, and to the end as receiving the chequer.


13gt8-CAL09Andrea Caldarelli

“At Start, there was hard blocking by one competitor, and also choosing hard tyres for the first two to three laps, tyres did not warm up as quickly and we lost some positions. Towards the end of my stint, the pace itself was fine but still it’s too bad that not everything went as I expected. Then, Daisuke continued to push hard with a different type of tyres, and brought us to 6th place, so that was good!

Anyway, today’s winner is No. 6 (ENEOS SUSTINA SC430) and the title-winner is also a LEXUS, so being a member in the LEXUS family I must say that on the overall we are happy with this season’s outcome. Let us sincerely thank every person who cheered for us and supported us throughout 2013, thank you very much!”


13gt8-COU05On LEXUS TEAM WedsSport BANDOH, Seiji Ara, who celebrated his 100th participation in the SUPER GT Series on this day, was entrusted to deliver the first stint. Starting from the sixth row but turning out to run in the very back of the field from the opening lap, Ara pushed strongly throughout the early laps to gain back positions. However, on finishing the 18th lap, Ara had to go in for a rather early pit in and handed the machine over to Andre Couto. From there the Portuguese veteran driver strove at high pace and once on the 23rd lap, then on the 38th lap again, respectively overtook cars running ahead, until raising positions up to P12! But then, right on the next lap could not avoid a collision with another car, and was imposed with a drive-through penalty. Because of this, No. 19 had to draw back to P14 at one time, but again caught up as passing others (who had crashed or failed due to troubles) one by one, and was back running in P10 on the 50th lap. Andre Couto in his stride clung on to that position all the way to chequer, and brought the team to finishing the 2013 series with points gained.



Andre Couto

“I must say it was a tough race. (Following the rule,) Seiji had to start the race with tyres from the qualifying and as struggling with the race pace, to manage his stint to the scheduled pit-in became difficult. Then, in my stint the pace became much better owing to the hard tyres – also the machine was more stable which helped me overtake numbers of cars. Anyway we are happy to be in the 10th place today. Thank you for your tremendous support for us all the season through. See you again in the Fuji Sprint Cup (Nov. 23 – 24)!”



And finally, based on the race result from today the GT500 series’ title of the 2013 SUPER GT Series went to the hands of ZENT CERUMO SC430 (No. 38).