SUPER GT Rd.5 Fuji

Struggling with bad weather, A. Caldarelli defends the Top rank, O. Jarvis P12, A. Couto with a P15 finish


14sgt5_18Round 5 of 2014 AUTOBACS SUPER GT came upon Fuji Speedway again over the weekend of August 9 to 10th, as “FUJI GT 300KM RACE”. This big summertime racing event which was staged by Mt.Fuji already for the second time this season, was competed among 15 cars of the GT500 class and 24 of GT300.  In spite of awful weather conditions brought by a large typhoon-11, thanks to the many GT fans showing up to enjoy a race filled with a wild ‘whirl’ of actions and varying conditions.  (Audience: 18,500 spectators/AUG 9, 26,500 / AUG 10),





August 9th (SAT)   Official Qualifying Day


14sgt5_11Thick clouds sat in the sky above but with no rain falling the practice session in the morning was held under Dry. Oliver Jarvis of LEXUS TEAM SARD was the quickest of all GRM drivers in this practice as marking a P2 time (1’30.471) in the GT500 class.


14sgt5_3Meanwhile, Andrea Caldarelli of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S, the current series point leader with his successful achievements from early on in this season, suffered of weight handy (98kg WH) , and sank to P15 (1’31.659) from this session.





In the GT300 class, Andre Couto of PACIFIC DIRECTION RACING showing his inherent ‘speed’ resulted with a P2 time (1’39.203) from the morning session and onward proceeded to the afternoon actions in a good note.






14sgt5_15Soon it was time to start the Qualifying session. At 14:00, first the Q1 of GT300 class began, and where Wet condition was announced, still there was nothing to wet the track. Andre’s teammate Takuya Shirasaka drove Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR, No. 9 and finished this session placing 20th (time of 1’40.210).


14sgt5_13Following that, Q1 of GT500 began (14:15-14:39) still under Dry, and here KeePer TOM’S RC F (No. 37) driven by Daisuke Ito settled to P14 (1’31.171), which did not bring Andrea Caldarelli on to fighting the Q2 heats.


14sgt5_7Meanwhile, Oliver Jarvis delivered a brave time-attack with No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F, and as marking the top time (1’29.986), advanced to Q2.

Only however, just seconds before Q2 (15:09 – 15:21) rain drops started to fall and immediately the condition switched from Dry to Wet. Now the session turning into a very difficult one for everybody, Oliver’s teammate Hiroaki Ishiura had to pit in straight away and change to rain tyres but even then, only P5 time (1’38.151) could be marked.



August 10 (SUN)  Race


1411-00Typhoon went crossing over the stretch from Shikoku island to the Chugoku region of this country, bringing heavy showers and wind also in the Tokai region which Fuji mountain ranges are also part of. From time to time, the rain came down heavily but then stopping sometimes as well – thus, the day turned into quite a hectic day, weather wise!


14sgt5_10Amid such conditions, the morning free session (9:00 – 9:30) was for a moment red-flagged by a downpour right after start of this free practice but overall everything still went according to the given schedule. This session which was the last chance for everybody to make final machine adjustments towards the race, had to be held under heavy wet, Machine No. 37 marked a 4th position time (1’43.974), No. 19 positioned 10th (1’44.399), and No. 9 marked a 4th place time (1’53.471) among the GT300s.



14sgt5_25Never stopping to rain from then and onwards, finally at 15:00 the Race got underway in the total Wet of misty rain shower falling. All three GRM drivers were appointed to drive the first half of the 66 laps 300km race which started behind the Safety Car (SC).








14sgt5_20In order to keep the Points Leader’s position, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S and Andrea Caldarelli’s target was in any way to get even just one point more as possible. Starting from the 7th row on the starting grid, Andrea Caldarelli in the opening lap wanting to avoid any risk, once drew back to P15. By the 8th lap, he positioned up to P12, but then which was also the time when the race got red-flagged. After re-start, the young Italian SUPER GT driver skillfully managed KeePer TOM’S RC F, and rose to P9 by the 26th lap, and then further up to P5 by the 35th lap! Eventually, Andre Caldarelli after making a successful stint of 40 laps returned to the pit where a switch to veteran driver Daisuke Ito was made. 14sgt5_23The team also took the strategy of not changing tyres, and though it was not easy for No. 37 to manage carrying a 98kg weight handy its position improved by one notch more from 10th up to 9th. And just when both rain and wind grew stronger with 8 laps remaining in the race, the SC run had to be executed again. Stormy weather was in no way recovering so much more and the battle had to finish just behind the SC. Thus this team earned 2 points and what was exactly needed for the time being to defend their top position in the ranking.





14sgt5_14Andrea Caldarelli

“I did my best and gave my fullest push throughout my stint. Since we chose medium compound, I was able to keep a nice pace with the tyres warming up too. I made no mistakes and just pushed as strongly as I could. My only regret is that we lost about 20 seconds in the pit stop, and ended up in P9… But being able to earn at least a few points in plus, I’m happy to come onto the next race as the series ranking Top.”





14sgt5_22Oliver Jarvis of LEXUS TEAM SARD starting from 5th on the grid drew one position back to 6th in the opening lap. However, from the 9th lap when the tyres started to warm, the well-experienced British driver showed a brilliant catch up back to P5. Only however, the rain came pouring down again and even harder causing the SC to join. Showers continued to grow heavier and by the 18th lap (15:48), the race had to be red-flagged.


14sgt5_19From 16:15, race was resumed from the point of Lap 19. Oliver was then back down running in P7 by the 21st lap, and got up to P5 again on the 25th lap, and soon joined a bunch battling fiercely for 4th! After 39 laps down, Oliver Jarvis pitted in in P4 and handed DENSO KOBELSCO SARD RC F to his teammate.

No. 39 continued to push hard throughout the last half of the stint but after 50 laps or so, the pace got no better due to wear of tyres and from there gradually losing positions, the team was down to 9th. Therefore on the 56th lap, tyres were switched to slick which was their choice to fight through the 10 laps remaining! This strategy somewhat worked against them however … as immediately after, heavy showers hit the track once again and came the second SC run of the day! Thus, No. 39 finished in P12 after all.


14sgt5_16Oliver Jarvis

“Another disappointing result for us this time… In my stint during the first half of the race, the condition was quite difficult with the red flag and all… But even then, I enjoyed the battle and improved positions up to P4. After the pit stop however, with a few other teams deciding not to change tyres Hiro (Hiroaki Ishiura) had to lose a few positions down, then added with abrasion of rear tyres the outcome for us was not like we had expected.”





14sgt4-21Starting from 20th in the GT300 Class with PACIFIC DIRECTION RACING, Andre Couto raised some positions up already from the opening lap. By the time the race was red-flagged, No. 19 was up to P14. Also after resuming the race, Andre went on overtaking his rivals, little by little and raised positions up. In fact, by the 25th lap, it was up to 10th and on the 32nd lap, up higher to 9th. Then after 37 laps of his stint, the expert Portuguese driver handed Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR over to his Japanese teammate, Shirasaka who went on over-writing and improving the time with consistent driving, and finished the race in P15.


14sgt5_8Andre Couto

“Today’s race was tough for all drivers under pouring rain which came on and off. During my stint, the pace was good from start and overtaking was fun. This machine is easier to drive the more it is wet, so whenever the rain stopped the tyres would heat up which makes it more difficult for us. In the next round, we will work ever harder as a team and try to finish in higher positions so give us your warm support!”





14sgt5_24SC runs:

①      15:00’00 (Start) ~ 15:06’08(Lap 2)

②      15:19’03 (Lap 9) ~ 16:21’13 (Lap 19)

③      17:29’54 (Lap 58) ~ 17:56’39 (Lap 66)



15:44’21 (Lap 9) ~ 16;15’00 (Lap 16)





The next round, the SUPER GT Round 6 will be held at Suzuka Circuit over the weekend of August 30 – 31st.