Swung around by rainy weather all weekend long, A. Caldarelli in P2 on the Podium! O. Jarvis in P6 and A. Couto finishes in P17


14sgt4-1AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 4 “SUGO GT 300KM RACE” was held over the weekend of July 19 to 20th at Sportsland SUGO (in Miyagi Prefecture).

This one round which usually takes place right around mid-point of this Series’ season (with 8 rounds in all), also as one exciting battle staged in Japan’s Tohoku region, turned out to be very much affected by unstable weather all weekend long. In spite of it all, a large number of SUPER GT supporters showed up to be enthralled with the big heat of SUPER GT excitement.

(Audience figures:  9,000 /July 19th, 28,000 / July 20th)



July 19th (SAT)  Official Qualifying


14sgt4-8Saturday began with Free Practice in the morning (9:00 – 10:56), also under Wet condition from the very start. Especially throughout the last half of this session, rain became heavier but under such difficult auspices, Oliver Jarvis clocked a 2nd position time (1’20.552), also LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM‘S to which Andrea Caldarelli belongs marked the time of 1’24.611 (teammate Ito’s best was 5th position time, 1’20.932), and Andre Couto with PACIFIC DIRECTION RACING in the GT300 class, driving Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR positioned 12th (1’29.841).


14sgt4-16Gradually the clock ticked 2:00pm, which was time to begin the Official Qualifying trials but which had to be delayed due to visibility issues caused by thick fog persisting over the track. Finally, as there were no signs of such weather conditions improving for the day, the overall qualifying session was postponed to the next morning (Sunday 9:05 to 9:30am for GT300, 9:30 – 9:55am for GT500).

Given this decision, teams and drivers dedicated most of their afternoon hours to take part in quickly arranged fan-oriented events such as the pit walkabout and autograph sessions.



July 20 (SUN)  Official Qualifying & the Race


Free Practice session usually held on Sunday morning, was this time replaced with the Official Qualifying (25 min. for each class), and which allowed for only 1 driver per team to give the time attack. (Normally, in both Q1 and Q2 respectively, each driver is mandated to try-out.) 


14sgt4-13Under continuous drizzle and “Wet” condition officially announced on the track, first off the trials by GT300 began from 9.00am and Andre Couto from Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR (No. 9) headed out to the course. However, possibly due to their tyre choice, time did not improve as much and Andre finished this session placing 23rd (1’29.970).


14sgt4-18Also in the quali for GT500 class (from 9:40 to 10:05), Daisuke Ito of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S exhibited strong attempts, and positioned 5th (1’19.767). From LEXUS TEAM SARD, Hiroaki Ishiura with the time of 1’19.917, secured 8th position on the starting grid.





14sgt4-19Rain shower continued intermittently for another while but by the time to Start the Race, it had stopped raining and track surface began to dry.

However, some parts of the track were still wet with also thick rainclouds sitting in the sky, but amid such variable weather, eventually the course began to dry with only some clouds lingering in the sky above. In spite of it all, the race of 300km (which is to last for 2 hours) fired up with all GT500 (15 machines) and GT300 (23 machines) rolling off with first the formation lap and then a fine Start with slick tyres. But just as two laps of the race were about to be completed, light rain came falling again!


14sgt4-7Andrea Caldarelli, who was appointed the starting driver of KeePer TOM’S RC F, watched other cars quickly return to the pit and switch to rain tyres, but he continued running in the top position persevering the wet track, and keep the lead. On the 12th lap, it was passed by ZENT CERUMO RC F No. 1 on the 12th lap, right as the rain started to clear. Chalking up steady laps regardless, the clever Italian driver kept P2 for another while and then on the 38th lap brought the machine under Daisuke Ito’s belt.


14sgt4-20Veteran driver Ito never eased off, kept pushing his best but eventually when the race had entered the 60th lap, rain started to fall again – this time turning heavier and heavier. Ito continued as managing the machine with fabulous control techniques even on a slippery surface, and Andrea Caldarelli / Daisuke Ito pair was chequered in 2nd place from the Race, also gaining additional points to now reach the top (with 49 points) of the Points Leader ranking.


14sgt4-10Andrea Caldarelli

“Glad to have reached the Points Leader position which was our target. Today, the race was quite a tricky, survival race. In my stint I first went to the top and ran there for a while, asking the team on the radio about rain forecast, from time to time. And when the track did start to dry, I was soon passed by car No. 1 who was really fast. But keeping up our fast pace, we held on to the last of the race. Daisuke’s stint was also very steady. Considering the weight handy and our restrictor conditions, today’s 2nd place finish is not bad at all. We will continue to strive giving our best, and with the team always united as one!”



14sgt4-4Oliver Jarvis on DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F, starting from the 4th row on the grid changed to rain tyres as seeing the rain come down. Throughout the early laps of the race Oliver ran in P9 for a while, but then seeing the weather clear up, had to go put back on slick tyres. As returning to the field lost some positions down to P12, but it was from there that the skilled British driver showed his talents and was back to P9 with an amazing catch-up!

14sgt4-9And ever more as dominating the battle with No. 17, climbed to P8, and then to P7 by the 38th lap as maintaining high speed and momentum the whole time. Continuing to run at this fine pace, Oliver brought the car back to pit in at the point of 53 laps done, and entrusted the steering to Hiroaki Ishiura. Still on slick tyres, Ishiura did his best to keep pushing but in the later laps however, rain started to fall again with the team having to do its fourth pit-stop of the day… and even so, Ishiura in 6th position passed the finish line.


14sgt4-5Oliver Jarvis

“Our machine condition was excellent today so I’m a bit disappointed that we could not place higher than 6th. Due to the track condition right after start, switching to rain tyre was my mistake. As our pace was good throughout, only if that first pit-in did not have to be made, we would have had a different outcome. Apart from the results however, I myself enjoyed my stint today with some exciting battles. Now my motivation towards the next round is growing higher. I can’t wait to be in Fuji!”



14sgt4-11Starting from P23, Andre Couto with Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR, of the GT300 class did not change tyres after start like a lot of other machines, but instead pushed on forward with his veteran skills, as overtaking many machines going ahead and by the 29th lap was up to P2!  This means a jump-up by 21 positions!!


14sgt4-21However, as oil coming off one of the machines running ahead covered up the front window Andre suffered from poor visibility. Even so, after 36 laps fulfilled Andre returned to the pit, and handed the machine over to Takuya Shirasaka his teammate. But then again, a drive-through penalty was demanded on car No. 9 (due to pit-work violation) and moreover, because of some oil remaining still on its front window, added with the wet track, Shirasaka could not hold spinning off, and finished the race in 19th place.


14sgt4-12Andre Couto

“In my stint, I could run with a good feeling to catch up and close in with much confidence. I want to thank my team for preparing a fantastic machine. In the last half, due to penalty and rain conditions, unfortunately the outcome was not like what we expected but this arouses our challenging spirit for the next round. Please continue to give us your warm support!”




The next round, SUPER GT Round 5 (Fuji Speedway) will be held on August 9th and 10th.