SUPER GT Rd.5 Suzuka

Andre Couto commemorated his 100th race with glory!  Andrea Caldarelli in P8 and points added


15gt5-COU1n August 29th – 30th the last big race of the summer in the SUPER GT Series (which consists of 8 Rounds), – 2015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 5 “44th International SUZUKA 1000km” – was staged at the world’s famous F1 circuit, Suzuka Circuit International Racing Course. (Attendance figures officially announced:  8/29 (SAT)  26,000  / 8/30 (SUN) 34,000)


Currently at the top of GT300 series ranking, Andre Couto (GAINER TANAX GT-R), and 3rd in that of GT500, Andrea Caladrelli (LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S) both aiming to pile up some more achievements upon this important turning point in the season, came upon this world’s highly renowned technical course, Suzuka Circuit, where also the F1 Japanese Grand Prix is hosted each year.


15gt5-COU7Topics: Andre Couto who has been fighting in the All Japan GT race (the current SUPER GT) since 2001 celebrated his 100th GT entry in 2015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Rd. 5. Inside the pit garage, celebration was done for Andre with many fans and drivers all gathered to congratulate him for his big accomplishment! 






August 29th (SAT)  Official Qualifying


15gt5-CAL3Following the downpour from the night before, Wet was declared for the Official Practice held on Saturday morning (09:20 – 11:10). As the session opened, the course was already drying and all the GT500 (15 cars) and GT 300 (28 cars) put on slick tyres. (Air temp. 24 deg. C / Track temp. 25 deg. C)



No. 37 of GT500, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S went onward setting the machine with Andrea Calderelli / Ryo Hirakawa pair working together as usual. They finished this session in P10 with the time of 1’48.730.



In the GT300 class, GAINER TANAX GT-R (No. 10) with Andre Couto, Katsumasa Chiyo, Ryuichiro Tomita – the three drivers in a team this time, – finished this session positioning 10th with the time of (2’00.562) and progressed on towards qualifying.


Soon it was14:30, under cloudy skies and in Dry condition, the Official Qualifying was finally set to begin.



15gt5-COU8First of all, in the GT300 class, the first attempts (Q1: 14:30 – 14:45) began where Andre Couto on GAINER TANAX GT-R serving the time attacker placed the session in P9 (1’59.839) in spite of carrying heaviest WH (Weight Handicap) of all – 88kg. Therefore, Andre finished this session in 9th, qualifying to make the Q2 competed by 13 machines. Then the next driver up, Katsumasa Chiyo, entrusted with the machine now exhibited a fabulous performance in the Q2 (15:25 – 15:37) and hopped up to P2 (with 1’58.600 time marked)! This resulted with the team to start the Race on Sunday from the front row.



Andre Couto

“It was a good qualifying. We owe this to the team for preparing a great machine. However, how tomorrow goes will always depend on weather so we should expect and be ready to fight a tough race.”


15gt5-CAL4In the GT500, Ryo Hirakawa was in charge of making the attacks in Q1 (14:50 – 15:05). As the machines all got to making attempts, one of the machines coursed off and therefore the session was red-flagged. However, Hirakawa undisturbed, finished this session in P6 (1’48.258) and advanced to Q2. Hence, putting the KeePer color machine under his command, Andrea Caldarelli gave another brilliant attacking pursuit and brought the team to qualify in P6 (1(48.665)


Andrea Caldarelli

“Between Q1 and Q2, we changed the setting which ended up giving us reverse effects, and without adequate front grip, this is the only result we got. As tomorrow’s race will be long-ranged, let’s make sure that we put perfect measures in place.”


August 30th (SUN)  RACE


15gt5-COU5On the race day as well, Suzuka Circuit was found under rainclouds from early morning, and due to some drizzles falling from around 11:00am, soon the track turned to a completely Wet condition.

Free Practice was not held this time like the usual Sunday mornings, but from 11:08, 20 minutes of warm-up session was held instead.


Then, at 12:30 (Air temp. 26 deg. C / Track temp. 28 deg. C / Humidity: 68%) still under the Wet condition, 173 laps of this famous long race began. In the beginning of the race, rain showers turned heavier at one time, but two hours into this long race it cleared, and the track began to dry.



15gt5-COU2Starting from the front row of the GT300 class, Andre Couto on Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 (No. 10) suffered with insufficient matching of the track condition versus the rain tyres, and could not help positioning down to the tail end of the 300s. From the way it was looking, the team made the judgment to instruct No. 10 to pit-in on the 19th lap. And just on finishing the 15th lap in his stint, Andre returned to the pit for an early routine pit-stop. Changing to intermediate tyres and switching to Chiyo, now was the time to chase up from the backfield. Looking at other machines some coursing off or some that were pitting in as well, Chiyo worked up the notches little by little, and by the 35th lap No. 10 got up to P9, and further, on the 52nd lap up to P8. In the next lap, the team tried its second pit-in of the day and the car was now handed to the third driver Ryuichiro Tomita. Now Tomita continued with fine driving as marking the fastest time in the GT300 (of 2’08.162). In the meantime, there were SC runs for two times (14:50’25-15:12’05、15:23’09-15:42’04), also another machine which left the race and by the 89th lap this team was up to P4.


15gt5-COU6After 90 laps done, steering was now entrusted to Andre Couto and this is exactly where Andre Couto struck off the strongest Push! As if to cancel out his somewhat frustrating tyre choice issues from the first stint, this veteran Portuguese driver charged(!) and now the GAINER TANAX GT-R was up at the top in lead on 96th lap!

 Like so, No. 10 was now leading the GT300 race, but on the 120th lap had to be passed by no. 7 (Studie BMW Z4) coming from behind. After that Andre pitted in, and the driving now switched to Katsumasa Chiyo in charge of the last stint! Fast pit actions by the team on No. 10 seized no. 7 and returned to the top position again with one more hour remaining in the race. Though every now and then, no. 7 often closed in from behind, Chiyo’s push continued until the gap between them gradually started widening. Then, at 18:25 received the chequer flag in the 1st place and therefore GAINER TANAX GT-R captured its second victory of this season.


15gt5-COU4Andre Couto

“This is the finest result we can have! To have won this historic race of Suzuka 1000km, and also on my 100th race, being able to win it is a memory you will treasure forever. The team did a very good job, all of us drivers did good. In the next race we will have 100kg WH on us, so we will stay focused. Please continue to give us your kind support!”






15gt5-CAL1In the GT500 class, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S which made a rolling start from the 3rd row with Ryo Hirakawa driving, could not raise his pace in the early laps and drew back to P9. Hirakawa continued on with a patient stride, but on the 31st lap coursed off on the second bend of the Degner Curve! Luckily no damage was caused to the machine but with this the standing lowered all the way down to P14. Hence No. 37 did its first pit-stop on the 33rd lap, where the car was under the command of Andrea Caldarelli. By then the rain showers were much lighter allowing Andrea to push at high pace. Eventually, when the race turned to 64th lap, there was an accident between GT300s and the safety car (SC) was drawn in.

15gt5-CAL6And right after the SC was released, No. 37 pitted and tyres were switched to slick. Hirakawa back driving again, calm and concentrated, drove to the 104th lap, and as positioning 10th, brought the car to pit stop for the second time. In Andrea’s stint, positioning up to P9 was accomplished on the 117th lap, and in that position 135 laps were down with the last stint left for Ryo Hirakawa to handle. Hirakawa also continued on with consistent driving and never giving up, finished the race in 8th with 4 points gained.




15gt5-CAL5Andrea Caldarelli

“In today’s race the weather was always un-foreseeable making tyre selection difficult to make, also when the SCs came in became the time-points to determine the good or the bad (outcomes), and it was really a tough race. This race never turned into a kind that we had hoped for. In my stint, I gave my best push but unfortunately no large improvement in our positions could be made.”












The next round SUPER GT Rd. 6 will be at Sportsland SUGO over September 19 – 20.