SUPER GT Fuji Sprint Cup

Andre Couto with a 6th finish from the last run of 2013, Andrea Caldarelli rues a regrettable retire



13gt9-CAL01All the national motor-sporting series and respectively their 2013 seasons have recently closed in Japan, but this weekend a big event to wrap up the year was staged at Fuji Speedway (in Shizuoka Prefecture). “JAF Grand Prix SUPER GT & SUPER FORMULA – FUJI SPRINT CUP 2013” was held on a grand scale over the weekend of November 23rd to the 24th, where it was also the very last stage to see the present SUPER GT500 class machines in action.


Over the piedmonts of Mount Fuji blessed with pleasant autumn weather the weekend through, dynamic sounds of the racing machines echoed all about, drawing 70,100 spectators in total for the three days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, gathered to be part of one of the truly much-awaited, motorsport festivals held in this country.



November 23rd (SAT)


13gt9-CAL03The two drivers who usually work as a pair taking turns driving in a SUPER GT round, here in this event is responsible to run one whole race per driver. According to this special format, for instance one driver of the team is in charge of Race 1, and the other in Race 2, – each driver to drive a 22-lap sprint race. This year, the two drivers of GRM, Andre Couto and Andrea Caldarelli were appointed to appear on November 23rd for Race 1 and also of course the qualifying session preceding their race taking place on Saturday afternoon.


13gt9-COU02Andrea Caldarelli with KeePer TOM’S SC430 drove in the official qualifying for Race 1, held from 8:25am for 20 minutes. His best time result of 1’31.940 recorded in this session brought Andrea to 12th position.Also in the same qualifying session, Andre Couto giving his utmost push on WedsSport ADVAN SC430 resulted with the 13th position time of 1’32.282. Henceforth, Andre and Andrea both prepared themselves towards the Race of later that day.




13gt9-CAL05The starting method of Sprint Cup is not by rolling start which is the usual practice in the series rounds, but here it was the “Standing Start”. At 15:35 on Saturday (Air temp. 13 degrees C / Track temp.: 15 degrees C) when the afternoon sun began to gleam from the west, now the formation lap got under way to get everybody on the starting grid. Shortly, as the red signals blacked out (!), all machines of GT500 gave off enormous engine sounds and went storming down the track!


13gt9-COU04Andre Couto showed an excellent start from P13, and already jumped up to P9 in the opening lap! In the next lap, climbing another position up to 8th and as overtaking another car moved up further to 7th.  Pushing at fast and steady pace, Andre stayed in that position throughout the middle of the race, but once got down to 8th on lap 19. However, towards the last part – with 1 lap to go, managing calmly as passing by two other machines which collided ahead of him, rose a couple of positions up again to P6, kept that position till finish and received the chequered flag.


13gt9-COU08Andre Couto

“After the qualifying, we decided to go with hard (tyres) in the Race. They were tyres which we had good feelings with from testing back in March, and adding some job on the setting worked perfectly for this race today. It allowed me to push with confidence. Towards the end, it became tough for the rear tyres but I’m sure having finished in Top 6 today was good for the team, Yokohama Tires, and for the fans who supported us all year long! Thank you again for your large support, and let’s all look forward to Seiji’s race tomorrow just as well!”




13gt9-CAL02Now, Andrea Caldarelli of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S starting from 12th position on the grid also took off with a fabulous start from the opening lap soon moving up to P11, and another notch up to 10th on the 2nd lap of the race. On and forward the brave Italian driver strove as keeping this position in the laps following, but on the 9th lap, due to machine trouble KeePer TOM’S SC430 stopped on Dunlop Corner and could not help but retire.





Andrea Caldarelli

“Due to some problem with the fuel pump or by some other cause, the car stopped only after 8 laps of the race. Based on the qualifying performance in the morning, we adjusted the setup a bit to fight this last race of the year so it is only too bad. I really did want to show a good race and I feel sorry for not being able to meet everybody’s expectations! Meanwhile, for Daisuke who will be in tomorrow’s race, I was able to offer a few advices, so I trust that he will make it up for us!”



November 24th (SUN)


13gt9-CAL07Weather continued to be good on Sunday as well, blessed with beautiful autumn sunshine and from the morning various events were held such as grid walk and talk shows in the event-squares for friendly exchanges between the teams, the drivers, and all the fans who always support them.


13gt9-COU06In the afternoon, Race 2 of the SUPER GT500 class fired up again at 15:35, the same time as the previous day’s race and the teammates of both Andre Couto and Andrea Caldarelli participated in the 22 laps of their race.


Seiji Ara on WedsSport ADVAN SC430 starting from P13, positioned down slightly at Start, but chalking up fine and steady laps, gradually improved the positions and finished in 9th place from Race 2. Meanwhile, Daisuke Ito on KeePer TOM’S SC430 starting from P8 finished this race in 11th place.






13gt9-COU05“Star Wars 501st Legion” is a garrison carrying out volunteer efforts on a global scale. Our Andre Couto joined the troop (!), to promote the Bone Marrow Donor’s registering campaign.


13gt9-COU010With the call to support leukemia patients fighting against this tough disease and help them recover by bone marrow transplants, – be blessed with a second life – the appeal was made towards many motorsports fans who were present at Fuji Speedway throughout the two days of the Fuji Sprint Cup weekend.