SUPER GT Rd.3 Autopolis

A. Caldarelli in 4th place, O. Jarvis with a rather regretful 11th finish, and A. Couto places 19th in the GT300 Class


14gt3_CAL12014 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 3 “SUPER GT IN KYUSHU 300KM” was staged at Autopolis (OitaPrefecture in Kyushu), a circuit located by a somma (*outer rim of a crater) in the beautiful Aso mountain ranges. Throughout the weekend of May 31st to June 1st, weather was almost like mid-summer, and as this track is found at the elevation of 900m, it is characterized with drastic up/downs added with mid to high speed corners, making it a tough battleground for the 15 cars of GT500 and 24 cars of GT300 classes!

(Attendance figures: 13,800/SAT, 24,400 spectators/SUN)








From this round, together with Andrea Caldarelli and Oliver Jarvis, another veteran GRM driver Andre Couto from Macau also joined the SUPER GT Series, driving with PACIFIC DIRECTION RACING (GT300 class, car No. 9, PORSCHE 911 GT3 R).



May 31st (SAT) Official Qualifying


Hot, sizzling sun struck the venue already from early morning on Saturday. From 9:00 to 11:12, Official Practice session got going where all the teams made checks into their machines tuned to the Official Qualifying scheduled in the afternoon. From this session, Andrea Caldarelli LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S positioned 5th (1’36.515) and Oliver Jarvis with LEXUS TEAM SARD at 11th (1’37.914), and Andre Couto in spite of his first time driving Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR, positioned 3rd (1’46.944) in the GT300 class in this early morning session.


14gt3_CAL5Soon the clock ticked 2:15pm (Temp. 28 deg. C, Track temp. 38 deg. C) and the first qualifying heat by the GT500 class got underway, where No. 37 KeePer TOM’S RC F with Daisuke Ito driving positioned 3rd (1’35.726), making advancement to Q2 at an ease. Following that in the Q2, Andrea Caldarelli delivered a 5th position time (1’35.892), which also became their mark on the starting grid for Sunday.



Andrea Caldarelli

“Q1 went fine, but Q2 ended with a bit of a regret. We chose hard tyres eyeing tomorrow’s race, but for me it was the first time and getting a bit surprised, I quickly had to change my driving style. Our grid position is not too bad, but personally I wanted to improve by 2/10th to 3/10th so I am not totally satisfied. However considering the fact we have the 52kg WH (weight handy, 50kg fuel flux restrictor limits plus a 2kg weight handicap) and still to be in this position, also close to ranking top No. 12 as well, we have good chances. All we need to do tomorrow is just fight away!”


14gt3_JAR1Meanwhile, No. 39 LEXUS TEAM SARD Hiroaki Ishiura gave hard pushes in the Q1, but finishing 12th (1’37.424), could not pave path for Oliver Jarvis in charge of Q2 to try the next set of qualis.






Oliver Jarvis

“Sadly, machine issues from Fuji have not been fixed yet. Though we tried various things, car is not getting faster …. And if it continues to be this way tomorrow’s race will become very tough for us so I’m just hoping that we can somehow get everything fixed by tomorrow.”



14gt3_COU3In the Q1 for GT300 class, which was held prior to the qualifying for GT500, Andre Couto was appointed to be in charge of the time-attacking pursuits on PACIFIC DIRECTION RACING, and in fact without any practice or much preparation, Andre hopped into the machine and challenged the 15 minutes of time trial, placed 13th (1’47.228), then handed the steering to his teammate to run the Q2. Then, in Q2 Takuya Shirasaka managed Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR to mark 12th (1’48.388).






Andre Couto

“Compared to the practice run we did this morning, there was some under steer and the machine did not progress in a good direction. We advanced to the Q2 however, and were able to position 12th. Tomorrow’s race will be fought with this package as giving our best of course, and I myself will do my best too to learn more about this machine in the race.”



June 1 (SUN) Race


Though there was slight haze over the sky on Sunday, the race day in Autopolis was blessed with fine weather throughout the day (Air temp. 25 deg. C / Track temp. 31 deg. C). In the Free Practice which was held from 9:00am for 30 minutes final tune ups and checks were made to ready the machines as fit for the race.


From this particular session, No. 37 positioned 11th (1’39.123), No. 39 in 12th (1’39.179), and No. 9 marked the 12th position time (1’48.575) in the GT300 class.


Eventually, it was 2pm (Air temp. 28 deg. C / Track temp. 31 deg. C), and finally the fierce racing of 65 laps fired up. In this round, all three GRM drivers were appointed to drive as starting drivers by their respective teams.


14gt3_CAL714gt3_CAL8Kicking off from 5th on the grid of GT500 class, Andrea Caldarelli on KeePer TOM’S RC F maintained that position throughout the early laps of the race. On the 8th lap, skillfully overtaking No. 12 (Calsonic IMPUL GT-R), earned another position up to 4th. And from the 15th lap, Andrea joined the fight over P3, and as doing so passed one car in the following lap. However, with still two cars ahead, No. 37 drew back to P5 by the 18th lap.


As keeping this position, No. 37 headed to the pit at the time-point of 29 laps down, and after refueling, a tyre change and switch of drivers to Daisuke Ito, returned to the field. On the 36th lap, with another car going off course, it was back running in P4 once again and for some more in the last laps of the race.


However, when the race was about to go into the 49th lap, safety car (SC) joined due to an accident on the 1st corner. SC run was not released until where the race had only 9 laps to go. It was also around then when a tail to nose fight began with No. 12 over P3. No. 12, which at present is also the biggest rival for No. 37 for 1st/2nd rank in the points ranking, the fight for 3rd place continued all the way to the final lap and after close and spectacular tail to nose battling, KeePer TOM’S RC F was chequer-flagged in the 4th place.


14gt3_CAL6Andrea Caldarelli:

“It was a close battle all the way. At Start, I jumped out well and followed no. 12 which was my greatest target during the first laps of the race. After that I passed no. 12, and no. 1. However and perhaps due to the restrictor on our machine giving limitations, we could not help but let no. 36 pass, also got caught in the traffic of GT300 cars battling, and was not able to find space to go through them. Lap time was never too bad, and we were able to maintain a constant momentum. Daisuke delivered good laps and an excellent job till the very end. Only some loss of time during the pit stop is to be regretted, still. It is something that’s been happening every round, and it’s really a MUST that we fix this problem soon!”


14gt3_JAR6 14gt3_JAR5From 6th row on the grid raised one position up on the 2nd lap to P11, and drove with constant pace for another while. However, on the 10th lap was hit by another GT500 car, as coming to the 2nd hairpin section! Positioning down to P14, Oliver persevered with resilience and maintained a good stride till the end of 27th lap, then pitted in.


Hiroaki Ishiura who took over No. 39 from a difficult position had not many choices but to anyway go driving away hard throughout the next half of the race. With consistent driving, Ishiura brought the position up to 11th by the 41st lap, and returned to the pit for tyre change on the 51st lap which was during the SC run. Running on fresh tyres, the team went on challenging through the last laps of the race, but with no further rise in positions DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F finished 12th from the race. Afterwards, with other car getting penalized, No. 39 moved one position up in the records to take the 11th place and finished the weekend.






Oliver Jarvis

“Owing to my team, the car was recovered to a better condition in the race. From the Start, I was able to raise one position up and keep up with cars ahead, – anyway aiming towards the top positions. However on the hairpin we got hit and on top of that had trouble with fuel. Overall flow for us this weekend was not the best till the end, which is somewhat regretted but since our machine speed is coming back, let’s revenge, get it all back in the SUGO round!”





14gt3_COU414gt3_COU7Andre Couto challenged this race driving a Porsche for his very first time. Starting from P12 in the GT300 class on Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR, Andre climbed to P9 already in the opening lap, and though losing one position down to P10 on the 3rd lap, Andre Couto continued at steady driving pace.


Later, on the 17th lap the Portuguese veteran driver was back to running in P9 again and pitted in after 36 laps run.


Now the machine was handed to Takuya Shirasaka, who returned to the field in P10, passed one machine which went astray and further, by the SC run the team positioned up to 8th. However, on the 53rd lap which was just when the SC run also finished, the team drew back to P12, and then on T14 coursed off which cost several positions down for the team, finishing in 19th from the race.









14gt3_COU6Andre Couto

“For me this was the first GT300 race, and I gained a nice experience. Machine was nice and stable, so I enjoyed driving as keeping our position. And though 7th to 8th place finish did not seem all that impossible, with a trouble occurring in my teammate’s stint after the SC run, we ended up with a slightly disappointing result. We will work harder towards the next round! I was able to adapt and blend in well with this team already during this weekend, so I’m really look forward to the coming races.”



 The next SUPER GT Rd. 4 will be held over July 19(SAT) – 20 (SUN) at Sugo (Miyagi Pref.).