SUPER GT Rd.2 Fuji

A perfect race and a Win by Andre Couto in the GT300 class! A. Caldarelli in P6 with a strong race gains points and defends the point-leadership!


15gt2-COU72015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 2, the “FUJI GT 500KM RACE” now landed on Fuji Speedway over May 2 – 3 for two days.

On both days the entire region around Fuji was blessed with the best May weather, drawing a huge audience also out to enjoy Japan’s Golden Week holidays.

15gt2-Public1In this popular big event, 15 cars of the GT500 class, and 27 of GT300 running together, showed hot battling before a large crowd of GT fans. Everybody was enthralled with dramatic and exciting racing scenes unfold before them throughout the weekend.


(Official attendance figures: May 2 (SAT) 33,500 / May 3 (SUN) 53,000, Total: 91,500)



May 2 (SAT)  Official Qualifying


15gt2-CAL5From early on in the morning, with Mt.Fuji showing up clearly above the track, the official practice session (8:50 – 10:41) took place over this famous Japanese speedway blessed with fine weather..


LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S, Andrea Caldarelli/Ryo Hirakawa after their pole-to-win triumph in the season’s opening round at Okayama, came on to this second round of the season but now with a 40kg weight handicap (WH) imposed, and perhaps affected largely by it, positioned 11th (1’29.740) in the GT500 class from the morning session.

Andre Couto/Katsumasa Chiyo with GAINER TANAX GT-R, – with 8kg WH placed on the car finished this session in P6 with the time of 1’38.462.


15gt2-COU2On Saturday afternoon, as the official qualifying session began. first it was the GT300 class making initial attempts in the Q1 from 14:15 – 14:36. Chiyo driving Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 (No. 10) gave a strong push to take position 7 (1’37.923) and the team moved onto Q2 competed among top 13 cars..


Then in Q2 (15:06 – 15:18), Andre Couto delivered brilliant pursuits, clocking a 3rd position time of 1.37.242 and finished the qualifying sessions placing 3rd.


15gt2-COU1Andre Couto

“Since the practice in the morning and also during the time leading to Qualifying, slight changes were made to the setting which seems to have worked, and therefore time was improved. But you never know what happens tomorrow in the race. What will become important for our setting is to consider a full tank condition and check for tyre stability during the free sessions. But in any case as a team we will give our best to go at winning the race tomorrow!”




15gt2-CAL4Over in the GT500 class, Andrea Caldarelli on No. 37 KeePer TOM’S RC F drove five laps in the Q1 (14:41-14:56), but the time getting no better than 1’29.584, the team positioned 14th, and advancement to Q2 of top 8 cars could not be made on this day.


Andrea Caldarelli

“It has turned into a tough Saturday for us. Of course we are carrying more weight compared to others, but we seem to be carrying some other issues as well. We could not make the kind of time-attacking pursuits we had hoped for. But the feeling I got from the long run in the free practice wasn’t as bad. It will be a long race tomorrow, so even starting from the back rows I’m hoping to go chasing up the field!”



May 3rd (SUN) – Race


15gt2-COU3Sunday at Fuji Speedway was again in perfect weather conditions. Warm-up session in the morning (9:00 – 9:30, Air temp: 23 degrees Celsius, Track temp. 31 deg. C) Andre Couto/Katsumasa Chiyo pair on GAINER TANAX GTR-R (No. 10) continued looking good, as positioning third (1’38.696) among all GT300s.

Meanwhile, Andrea Caldarelli/Ryo Hirakawa could not improve their time like they wanted resulting with P15 (1’31.424) in the GT500 class.


Soon it was 14:15, – time to start the race. Light clouds spread over Fuji’s track but overall the weather stayed fair and pleasant. With the temperature at 25 degrees C. (Track temp. 39 deg. C), the long race of 500km finally got under way.


15gt2-COU4Of the 27 machines belonging to GT300, Andre Couto on the steering of GAINER TANAX GT-R took off with a good rolling start from 3rd on the grid. Andre once gets overtaken by car no. 11 (GAINER TANAX SLS), his teammate on the opening lap, and drove in 4th place through the early laps. In a while, Safety Car (SC) was drawn in just after the 10th lap and for the next 5 laps, the race was neutralized. Even after the SC withdrew, the top four cars including No. 10 continued to lead the rest of GT300 field, running in a cluster. And as finishing off the 23rd lap, Andre went in to the pit for a slightly earlier stop! The team then delivered the swiftest pit-work which saved on fueling time, and quickly sent Couto’s Japanese teammate out to the course. This strategy proved to be right and “on the dot!” as the race reached the 41st lap, because by then all other GT300 machines had finished each of their pit-stops and No. 10 found itself driving at the top! Chiyo maintained his stride, as building up about a 6-second gap with no. 3 (B-MAX NDDP GT-R) running behind in 2nd. After his 37 laps stint, Chiyo then entrusted the car to Andre Couto again, who pushed even harder as remarking his own time record, and gradually creating a more than 38 second gap with the P2 car, Andre cruised to the chequer flag, seizing the very first win of this season.


A15gt2-COU8ndre Couto

“For me, just after joining this new team, and the team entering the series with GT-R for the first time, this is really the best outcome! We owe this to the machine, the tyres, strategies, – everything fit together perfectly and also with the team united as one, – without all these things we could not have won today, Let us hope that we can keep up this good pace, and face our next set of challenges. Thank you all for your kind support!”





15gt2-CAL6In the GT500 class, Andrea Caldarelli with LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’ had to start from 14th on the grid, but aiming to make a big catch up from behind, Andrea kicked off strong toward the race of 110 laps. On the 2nd lap, Andrea overtook one machine ahead, then soon with another machine slowing down and also the safety car entering, made a few notches up to P11. Soon after the SC drew away from the field on lap 16, two other machines collided on the 1st corner, which pushed up the brave Italian again, and with a beautiful overtake of another car, soon Andrea emerged to P8. Only on the 22nd lap, a car that caught up and passed had him down running in P9 for a moment, but by the 33rd lap, positioning up to 7th, Andrea Caldarelli continued to chalk up good laps until the end of 38th lap which was when pit-in and driver change was to take place.


15gt2-CAL2Andre’s teammate Ryo Hirakawa now got behind the wheels of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S keeping P7. As coming onto the 52nd lap, there was another car that dropped out of the battle and this finally brought No. 37 to reach P6, a rank where from points-earning becomes possible. Ryo Hirakawa strove onward, never pacing down and when coming to the 76th lap, pit-stopped for the 2nd time for refueling and tyre and driver change. Andrea Caldarelli back in his last stint clung on hard to P6 with a steady pace, constantly marking in the 1’31”s from each of the laps remaining, until finally finishing the race as earning points. With this result, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’s managed to defend the current point-leader’s position (25 points) and onward they go towards the next round.


15gt2-CAL1Andrea Caldarelli

“It was an exciting race today. From the beginning, I aimed at positioning up pushing hard, overtaking, and just giving my best. Though we did struggle with the WH all weekend long, our team did a great job, and helped us defend our point-leadership as well. Now, this is going to impose more weight (limiting the restrictor) on our car, and the next round in Thailand is not going to be so easy either, but anyway we will do our best!”






The third round of the SUPER GT series will be held at Chang International Circuit in Thailand over the weekend of June 20 – 21st.