SUPER GT Rd.4 Fuji

Stirred up race… A. Couto has P6 finish and points, keeps his lead in the GT300 class! A. Caldarelli with unsatisfactory P12 result in GT500


15gt4-COU32015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 4 “FUJI GT 300KM RACE” was held over August 8 – 9th at Fuji Speedway.


15gt4-CAL1Andre Couto (GAINER) won Round 2 of this Series right here on the same circuit, and Andre Caldarelli (LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S) who in the SUPER FORMULA took a pole-position in July came upon a big summer race again this weekend as the point leaders in each of their classes. Hence, both GRM racers arrived at the stage highly driven to keep their leads!

 (Attendance figures officially announced:  August 8th 20,400 / August 9th 36,400 = Total of 56,800)


August 8th (SAT)  Official Qualifying


15gt4-COU5At the present time, the Japanese islands are struck by powerful mid-summer heat day after day. And though this track is located in the higher Fuji mountain altitudes, on Saturday morning air temperature was at 28 deg. C from early on, with light clouds spreading all above (Track temp. 33 deg. C / Humidity 75%). Under such hot and muggy conditions, Saturday morning’s official practice began from 8:50 – 10:35 where 15 of GT500 and 29 GT300 machines, the total of 44 cars took part for as long as 105 minutes.


15gt4-CAL6Based on SUPER GT’s technical regulations, weight handy (WH) is loaded upon each car according to race results from the previous round and here KeePer TOM’S RC F (No. 37) carried a 60kg WH. Andrea Caldarelli and Ryo Hirakawa pair driving, their best time of 1’30.530 from this session positioned them in P13.


* In the GT500 class, when the Weight Handy exceeds 50kg, a conversion is made to such 50kg worth of fuel flow restrictor diameter, and then the remaining weight is imposed as is. For example: In the case WH is 56kg, first the fuel flow restrictor diameter amounting to 50kg is converted, then the remainder (of which in this case, is) +6kg is loaded on the car as a weight handicap.


Meanwhile, GAINER TANAX GT-R (No. 10, WH78kg) had Andre Couto’s teammate Katsumasa Chiyo starting the session. And just when their time was improved to 1’40.088, trouble with the drive system emerged and car stalled on the course. The machine was soon brought back to the pit and the team mechanics all hurried to fix everything in time for the approaching qualifying sessions.


15gt4-COU1Hot summer day eventually turned cloudy with the temperature still at 28 deg. C, but at 14:15, under Dry condition with even a nice breeze felt on the skin, the Official Qualifying session began.


In the first attempts by GT300 (Q1 14:15 – 14:37), on GAINER TANAX GT-R efforts to repair the car continued till just before the starting time of the quali, but the team managed it all well and sent Katsumasa Chiyo out to the course in time.

Chiyo made strong pursuits throughout, but No. 10 had to settle to P14 (with their best time 1’38.792) which was barely falling short to advance to the Q2. However, since there was another competitor imposed with a penalty, GAINER TANAX GT-R was up in P13 and suddenly Andre Couto who did no single warm-up lap in the morning, was to run the Q2 (15:08 – 15:21). Never wasting such chances however, veteran driver Andre gave a decent push, and clocking the same exact 1’38.729 time marked by Chiyo earlier in the day, brought the team to position 11th after qualifying.


15gt4-COU2Andre Couto

“Considering that we had a trouble this morning, this is perhaps the best result we could have gotten for today. We were lucky to have also advanced to the Q2. For me, it turned into driving the qualifying rather “un-rehearsed”, but glad that I could bring us to P11. Now I can’t wait for tomorrow’s race.”







15gt4-CAL7On the other hand, the Q1 of GT500 had to start behind schedule (14:43 – 14:58) as there was interruption in the Q2 of GT300s. No. 37 KeePer TOM‘S RC F was run by Ryo Hirakawa first. However, with the time stumbling at 1’29.359 (P12), it saw no Andre Caldarelli on the steer in Q2 competed among the best 8.


Andrea Caldarelli

“Regrettable qualifying result, but even with WH (of about 50kg, with restrictor limitations) machine condition was never so bad from the morning, and the time gap with competitors is also not that large. We have not given up on tomorrow’s race at all. In the long 300KM race, I’ll work hard as a good team with Ryo (Hirakawa), and do our best!”



August 9th (SUN)  Race


15gt4-stratSunday was again found under fine weather from the morning, and in the Free Practice (9:35 – 10:05) everybody worked on final adjustments tuned to the upcoming Race. GAINER TANAX GT-R with Andre Couto/Katsumasa Chiyo started the day positioning 5th in the GT300 class. Meanwhile, Andrea Caldarelli/Ryo Hirakawa pair resulted with P12 in the GT500 class with the time of 1’31.663. Both GRM drivers went on with their preparations respectively for the coming race with good feelings gained from morning practices.


Soon it was 15:00 time to start the race. By then the temperature had risen to 31 deg. C, with track temperature reading 45 deg. C but then with pleasant winds also brushing by, the 66 laps (approximately 300km) race got under way.


15gt4-COU4In the GT300 class, GAINER TANAX GT-R (No. 10) Andre Couto kicked off from 11th, and with skillful driving in the opening laps kept raising his position up to P9, then to P8 on the 4th lap, P7 on 7th, and to P6 in the 10th lap! From there the veteran Portuguese driver continued to push up the field battling for 2nd. Only, coming to the 1st turn on the 18th lap, surrounded by other machines and losing space, and moreover with a GT500 machine contacting from behind led to a regrettable spin! This caused No. 10 to lose positions again down to P12. However, that did not bring this gutsy driver down! From there Andre Couto chased up the field strong, passing cars one after another until finishing the 27th lap, and finally pitted and handed the machine to Katsumasa Chiyo.

After that, Chiyo also kept pushing with tenacious driving, and as passing some machines that also left the frontline worked his way up to P6. Back where they were, No. 10 continued to battle in that position and till the end, earned 5 points. As a result of this, Andre Couto retains his point leader’s position in the GT300 class.


15gt4-COU6Andre Couto

“Overcoming some troubles, to finish 6th and earn points, which lets us keep the ranking-top position makes me happy. Also since the team prepared a great machine for us, I was able to enjoy the battling especially during the early laps. We will stay on this good note, and get ready for Suzuka where it’s going to be an even tougher race! I ask that everybody continues to support us!”     






15gt4-CAL4As the starting driver of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S (No. 37), Andrea Caldarelli took off well as jumping up from P12 to P9 in the opening lap! The brave Pescara-born Italian drove aggressively in that position throughout the first so many laps but in the 10th lap due to collision with another car, No. 37 was issued a drive-through penalty. Andrea Caldarelli on this day drove 35 laps, and then went into the pit for a switch to his teammate. Ryo Hirakawa took over the steering next, and pushed as hard as he could to catch up, as going from P14, but in the end finishing in 12th was the best that could be done for this time around.




15gt4-CAL2Andrea Caldarelli

“My Start went well and I pushed hard but after a few laps, it became hard on the tyres. We must admit that harder tyres were not the best choice this weekend. I will reflect seriously on this race where we ended up with no points, make a good switchover to the next, prepare for Suzuka 1000km!”







The next stage of AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 5 will be at Suzuka Circuit over August 29th and the 30th.