SUPER GT Rd.6 Suzuka

From the hard survival race, A. Caldarelli in P7 after a struggle with 100kg WH, A. Couto of GT300 gains points in P7! O. Jarvis with an unfortunate P11.


14gt5-212014 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 6 “International Suzuka 1000km” was held over the weekend of August 30th to the 31st.


This one big race of each season, staged at Suzuka Circuit amid usually the hottest time of the year and over the long distance of 1000 kilometers – a true survival race – is definitely one weekend that all motorsports fans cannot miss out! A large number of GT fans showed up to be part of the hot excitement in this very last weekend of the summer.

 (Audience figures: August 30th / 25,000, August 31st / 36,000)



August 30th (SAT)  Official Qualifying


14gt5-18Blessed with fine weather from the morning, from 9:40 under Dry condition, the two hours of official practice session got off to a start. About 15 minutes into the session, due to one of the cars with machine trouble, it was red-flagged for 20 minutes or so. Oliver Jarvis/Hiroaki Ishiura pair of LEXUS TEAM SARD positioned 6th (1’50.329), and Andrea Caldarelli/Daisuke Ito of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S in P14 (1’51.975) in the GT500 class. In the GT300 class, Andre Couto/Takuya Shirasaka/Taiyo Iida trio on Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR in P11 (2’02.068) confirmed their advancement onto the official qualifying of Saturday afternoon.


14gt5-8At 14:00, first the 24 cars of GT300 class began their first qualifying (Q1) heat. Andre Couto on No. 9, PORSCHE 911GT3R ran for 15 minutes of the time attack. And though for a part of the session it had to be red-flagged No. 9 stayed focused and affirmed their advancing to Q2 with a P11 time (2’01.279). Andre’s teammate Takuya Shirasaka, who was in charge of driving the Q2 (14:47 – 15:07, Red Flag 14:57 – 15:07)) likewise delivered his utmost and finished the qualifying in P10 (2’02.364).






Andre Couto

“This qualifying result is not so bad for us. Tomorrow’s race will be long and with three of us driving, it should be interesting. Our team will definitely unite as one and do our very best!”



14gt5-17Also, in the Q1 by the GT500 class (14:22 – 14:37), 14 cars went for a run, where Oliver Jarvis serving as the time-attacker on No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD RCF, kept renewing their time as pushing forth. However, as other cars also improved their time, the team stagnated in P11 (1’49.888)


Oliver Jarvis

“Machine is not bad at all, but we were not able to beat our rivals. In fact, I’m a bit surprised with the large gap. GT-Rs and Michelin are outstandingly fast. We have a good long-run pace though, so tomorrow let’s aim at winning this long race even starting from this grid position.”



14gt5-2Meanwhile, Daisuke Ito was in charge of the Q1 for KeePer TOM’S RC F. Based on the results from the previous races, the maximum weight handy of 100kg got accumulated (of which 50kg gets limited by the restrictor) upon No. 37, and unable to mark a high time record the team finished Saturday in P13, with the time of 1’50.961.







Andrea Caldarelli

“I knew all along that it will be tough for us in this time’s qualifying. However, I never thought the gap with the top would be so big – such as more than 2 seconds! As machine balance is not bad, we will try to sort things out through a meeting with the engineers. And because we all know that the race is always a different story … let’s just see.”




 August 31st (SUN)  Race


14gt5-10Free practice session in the morning started under Dry condition from 8:30am for 30 minutes. 15 GT500 cars and 24 cars of the GT300 class made final checks into their conditions to be sure they can fight through and strongly this special, longest race of the year. In this session, DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F recorded 1’53.241 (P11), and KeePer TOM’S RC F with 1’54.100 (P14). Over in the GT300 class, No. 9 PORSCHE 911 GT3 R clocked the time of 2.92.712 (P4).


Then at an unusually earlier starting time – 12:15, just the moment that all cars cleared the Parade Lap and the Formation Laps the 173 laps of battling over the world-famous Suzuka Circuit (the total length of the International Racing Course is 5,807m) got set to a START!


14gt5-3At LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S No. 37, Andrea’s teammate Daisuke Ito drove the first stint. Keeping P13, Ito pushed calmly but strongly and by the 20th lap, with another machine having to make pit-in on urgency, No. 37 emerged to P10, and soon to P9. Seeing off other machines going to pit-stop, No. 37 took the strategy of delaying their pit-in timing with the intention to have better fuel consumption since its pace is limited by the restrictor. And later, as Ito pitting in on the 32nd lap, Andrea Caldarellli took over KeePer TOM’s RC F and set out to the course. KeePer-colored machine continued its consistent strive running in P10 for another while, and where eventually from the 54th lap when battling against car no. 1 over P9 began, but then not being quick enough, the young Italian driver felt somewhat stressed but anyway kept on seeking for chances without making mistakes.

14gt5-4From around the 58th lap, the 2nd pit-in began for many others, but No. 37 waited until the 67th lap to do its second pit stop. Now with Ito driving again, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S lost a few positions down to P11, however at this point the race was only halfway through, leaving some room for catching up. After a while, with other cars slowing down, by the 89th lap the position was back up to P9, and finishing off the 102nd lap, KeePer TOM’S RC F went in for the third pit-stop which brought Andrea back to doing his second stint of the day. Meanwhile as some of the cars drew back with trouble, by the 89th lap the Pescara-born driver was running in P7 again and tried its best to hang on patiently. On the 129th lap, passing a car that returned to the pit, the team rose to P6 and until the 136th lap defending its position, the car was entrusted to Daisuke Ito till the end of the race. Thus Andrea’s teammate gave a constant push in P6 for a while more, but due to contact with a GT300 car on the Dunlop Corner, the team was given a drive-through penalty, and resulted with a P7 finish. In spite of it all, Caldarelli/Ito pair added on points and was also able to hold onto their 2nd from the top ranking in the Series.


14gt5-1Andrea Caldarelli

“Today we finished in P7. It was really a long and tough race. Since we had a slower pace, we tried saving up on fuel – also with our 4 pit-stop strategy both Daisuke and I gave our best. However this was really the most we could do this weekend, and our point-leader’s position had to be taken away by no. 23 (MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, 60pts) this time, but still it is just a 4 points gap. Let’s be sure to fight well through the remaining two rounds.”





14gt5-19On the other hand, Oliver Jarvis serving the starting driver on LEXUS TEAM SARD No. 39, from 11th on the grid climbed to P9 in the opening lap with two machines ahead colliding in the opening lap. From there and by the 20th lap the British driver on No. 39 went on skillfully, positioning up to P7. Soon, with the race leader of GT500 finishing up the first 25 laps, along with it many machines started making routine pit-stops. No. 39 also pitted in at such timing, after 27 laps – and which was actually the first of all LEXUS to pit in. Re-fueling, changing tyres, and after a switch made to Hiroaki Ishiura, it joined back the field. At the point when the first pit-stops by all GT500 cars were through, No. 39 was running in P6. However, a hit by a GT300 machine on the Degner Curve gave a bit of chills on the 50th lap, but fortunately not turning into such a big trouble Ishiura went on pushing. At the end of 58th lap, the steering was handed to Jarvis again and further on lap 66, a marvelous overtaking of two cars and aggressive performance by LEXUS TEAM SARD captivated everyone watching!


14gt5-15Now, at the time point of 72 laps when all the cars had finished their 2nd pit-stops, No. 39 was in P6, and onward Ishiura went forth over-writing his personal best time passing other cars falling out, until the podium 3rd place could be envisioned to come within its reach! On the 116th lap when the 4th pit-in was made, driver change took place and now Oliver Jarvis was in charge again. With steady pace and driving, Oliver kept the P3 standing until the 145th lap when he finished his stint. Then with Ishiura on duty again with the last stint and on the out-lap coming to the Degner Curve, the left rear wheel fell off! With their chance for podium finish so close at hand and missing, on the 146th lap LEXUS TEAM SARD had to finish the race with a 11th place result (which was confirmed according to the number of laps required as a finisher)


14gt5-14Oliver Jarvis

“A fantastic race was going on, but until the machine stopped. The team had prepared for us the best package, and both Hiro and I went on driving without making mistakes. Positioning up from P11 to P3 was good, and I enjoyed the race. Mistake in the pit-stop is the only thing to be regretted, and though we could not get the end result that was expected, I would like to come back and challenge this same race again next year!”





14gt5-9Andre Couto on Otonokizaka High NAC PORSCHE with DR (No. 9) of GT300 class, started from 10th on the grid and with a steady and sound driving, ‘trouble-free’, rose to P6 on the 19th lap. Then, after 29 laps down, Couto pitted in, and handed PORSCHE 911 GT3 R over to Takuya Shirasaka. 

Shirasaka who went also with very constant driving, chalked up laps keeping P7.


14gt5-12On the 42nd lap, the team was down in P8 but keeping that position, further relay to their third driver Taiyo Iiida was made, and then later back to Takuya Shirasaka again. Eventually, Andre Couto returned to PORSCHE 911 GT3 R on the 110 lap with the great responsibility to take the car on the last spurt. From that point and onward to the final 158th lap, the Portuguese expert driver concluded the long run bringing his team to finish in P7 and dedicating to the first ever points to be earned by PACIFIC DIRECTION RACING.


14gt5-7Andre Couto

“It was a good race for us. It was tough but with the team working together, we scored some points too. I was in charge of the first and the last, – the two long stints, but at this world’s leading circuit, to be blessed with such an excellent machine too, I really enjoyed the race. I want to thank the team’s lead Mr. Mizutani, the engineers and the mechanics, and everybody involved. Thank you very much!”






SUPER GT Round 7 will be held in the weekend of October 4th to 5th at Buriram United International Circuit in Thailand, the first and only fly-away SUPER GT race in this season.