SUPER GT Rd.3 Thailand

GT300 class 2nd on podium by A. Couto! In the GT500, A. Caldarelli in 6th makes both GRM drivers Point-leaders in each of their classes!!


15gt3-COU3The 2015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 3 “BURIRAM SUPER GT RACE” held over June 20 – 21 and in Buriram Prefecture of Thailand, is currently the only fly-away race in the SUPER GT calendar. Everybody traveled all the way to Chang International Circuit this weekend, where a SUPER GT event was staged for the second time since last October. The entire track length of this circuit is 4.544Km, with 12 corners, and the longest straight section measures 1000m. Here, the drivers all see that there is a slight but definite undulation though appearing to be flat, and above all, strong sun shining down ruthlessly upon the circuit – perhaps the biggest fight for everyone might be there as well!?




From GRM, Andrea Caldarelli with LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S who last year here at this circuit missed the podium though coming very close, also Andre Couto with GAINER TANAX GT-R trying this circuit for the first time fired up to meet many challenges awaiting under the sizzling sun of Thailand.


Attendance figures: June 19 (FRI) 6,191 / June 20 (SAT) 16,412 / June 21 (SUN) 38,381 = 3 days total 60,984 (as officially announced)



May 20th (SAT)  Official Qualifying


15gt3-COU4On Saturday morning, Free session (10:00 – 11:45) got under way amid 36 deg. C and track temp. 53 deg. C, where 15 cars of GT500, and 23 cars of GT300 all worked on settings for the qualifying session held later in the day.


Andre Couto, the winner of the previous GT300 round, FUJI GT500Km Race, had to carry a 48kg weight handicap (WH) this time, but in spite of such condition, Andre demonstrated a full command over No. 10 Gainer TANAX GT-R together with Ryuichiro Tomita his Japanese teammate in this Buriram race, and marked P8 time of 1 min. 35.119 seconds.




Meanwhile, points-ranking leaders of the GT500 class, Andrea Caldarelli/Ryo Hirakawa on KeePer TOM’S RC F No. 37, with 50kg WH positioned 11th (1min. 26.903 sec.) from this session.




15gt3-COU6Pretty soon, the clock ticked 15:00, time to start the 15 minutes of Qualifying session in the GT300 class (Q1 15:00 to 15:15), where GAINER TANAX GT-R appointed Andre Couto to be the first one up. Coming on to his 4th lap especially, the veteran driver gave a powerful push and got to P4 (with 1’34.811 time), which let the team move up to the Q2 at ease. Then, in the Q2 (15:45 -15:57), competed by the top 13 cars, Tomita also exhibited brilliant performances and took P3 (1’34.507). This was the first time for both drivers in this team to tackle this course, and yet there were no particular issues arising or no worries at all while they showed such unquestionable, fine performances throughout Saturday!


15gt3-COU5Andre Couto:

“It was good qualifying, we’re glad to be in P3. The team prepared a great machine for us, which should help us fight through tomorrow’s Race, also with confidence. Let’s try for a second win in a row!”



15gt3-CAL1In the Q1 heats of the GT500 class held from 15:20 to 15:35, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S sent Ryo Hirakawa up first to render the time-attacks where this Japanese teammate of Andrea marked a P4 time (1’25.747) and advanced to the Q2 competed among the top 8.

Coming to the Q2 (16:05-16:17), now Andrea Caldarelli was up to deliver some more strong attempts on No. 37 and clocked 1’26.123, finished the qualifying session in P6.


Andrea Caldarelli:

“Just regretting the slight mistake I made on the hairpin, but considering the WH we are carrying, P6 isn’t all that bad. We still have chances in the race, I haven’t given up!”



June 21 (SUN)  RACE


15gt3-Image2Free session in the morning (09:50 – 10:20) started with some overcast of clouds, also with winds but the temperatures were 32 deg. C., and on track 38 deg. C, – very much tropical conditions typical to Thailand!

Andre Couto/Ryuichiro Tomita driving GAINER TANAX G-R (No. 10) went forth setting up their machine to be ready for the race as marking a 6th position time (1’35.020) in the GT300 class. Veteran Portuguese driver commented after morning sessions: “Machine balance is good! I think we have a fully competitive machine to fight the race.”




Also at KeePer TOM’s RC F (No. 37), Andrea Caldarelli/Ryo Hirakawa got through their morning sessions in 14th position (1’27.299). After the session, said Andrea: “It might be difficult to overtake NISSANs and HONDAs who have high straight-speed, but we’ll try our utmost with the GT300 strategies.”


At 15:00 sharp, the race got under way! Though light clouds in the sky still remained above Chang International Circuit, stabbing sizzles of sun could be felt from among them, with outside temperature reading 37 deg. C (Track temp., almost 60 deg. C). Under these extreme auspices, now the 66 laps (approx. 300km) of SUPER GT’s fly-away race went kicking off!


15gt3-COU2Starting from 3rd grid of their class, GAINER TANAX GT-R with Andre Couto wasted no effort or time, just pushed courageously already from the opening lap, and rose to P2 on the third lap! There were two NISSAN GT-Rs of GT300 class trailing behind him for quite a while, also not being able to overtake no. 3 (B-MAX NDDP GR-R, WH36kg) ahead leading the race, Andre anyway clung to P2 throughout his stint and on finishing the 29th lap, pitted in! After tyre change and fueling, Ryuichiro Tomita now steered No. 10 back onto the field.





Tomita continued with a steady pace maintaining the P2 place throughout the next half of the race. At one time, No. 10 closed in to the leader inside a mere 10 seconds’ gap, but car no. 3 was any way faster on this day and Couto/Tomita on GAINER TANAX GT-R No. 10 got the chequer in 2nd place. With this result, now Andre Couto finds himself at the very top of drivers in the GT300 class, the points-leader standing!




Andre Couto

“It was a perfect weekend from qualifying all the way to the end of the race. Regrettable that we could not win the race this time, but we gave our very best so no regrets. The team did such a good job that both the machine and tyres had no problem at all, plus Ryu (Ryuichiro Tomita) gave a fabulous performance by racing strong all the way to finish. To have such a good result from my first time racing in Thailand is something special too, and I’m very happy. I hope we do well again maintaining our pace in the next round at Fuji!”


15gt3-CAL2In the GT500 class, starting from the third row LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S with Andrea Caldarelli hung onto their 6th position throughout early laps of the race and chalking up steady laps. At one point there was no. 1 (MOTUL AUTECH GT-R) chasing up from behind but with skillful blocking Andrea defended hard, drove his 32 laps as keeping P6 all the way until pit-in to hand the steer over to Hirakawa.


It happened to be that pit-work by their rival was very quick however, and No. 37 could only make it back to the field in P8 and went on fighting in the last half for the race in that position, Nonetheless, Andrea’s courageous teammate pushed onward more at very high pace. On the 43rd lap, passing a car that had to leave the race, No. 37 was up to P7, and gradually, back to P6 on the 58th lap and then all the way to the chequered flag. With this result, the Italian and Japanese pair on KeePer TOM’S RC F continues to remain at the top of the point-leaders standing while promising many more exciting actions to come also in the next round.


15gt3-CAL3Andrea Caldarelli:

“In my stint, I had Ronnie (Quintarelli) on no. 1 approaching me close in Sector 1, but as blocking I managed to cling on. At the point of 3 laps remaining, there was yellow flag after another, and was difficult to overtake a GT300, so I drove patiently for a while. One sad thing is that the position had to change after the pit-stop. Without this, getting 4th was also possible, but in any case this is a subject that we can bring back with us to study and examine in the team. Anyway we made sure to score points here too, and we did keep our points-leading position so that is good. Thank you for your kind support again.



The next SUPER GT race, Round 4 will be held at Fuji Speedway over August 8th-9th.