SUPER GT Rd. 8 Motegi

Andrea Caldarelli rounds off the season with his second Pole-to-Win in 2015!GT300 Champion Andre Couto concludes the year with a 6th place finish.


15gt8-CAL42015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Series has now reached its closing round with “MOTEGI GT250km RACE”.

Andre Couto who was already decided the Series Champion of the GT300 series in the last round, and currently in the 7th ranking of GT500, Andrea Caldarelli arrived at Twin Ring Motegi this weekend, both drivers aiming to achieve the best results they can in the season’s final race.

15gt8-COU5This weekend, completely freed from the Weight Handicap that was imposed on each car throughout the season, now the chances flung open for everybody to fight, ‘head-to-head’! Over the weekend of November 14 – 15th, many fans flocked to the circuit and enjoyed to their hearts’ content all the thrills and excitement of the SUPER GT, the premier race series of Japan.

(Attendance figures officially announced:  November 14 (SAT) 17,000  / November 15 (SUN) 33,000)



November 14 (SAT) Official Qualifying


15gt8-COU6Occasional rain showers fell upon the track from the morning and all of Saturday turned rainy, the day long. Practice session (8:50 – 10:36) took place in the Wet condition as drizzles continued to fall quietly. 15 cars of the GT500 class and 28 of the GT300 all ran on wet tyres.


15gt8-CAL3Andrea Caldarelli and Ryo Hirakawa of KeePer TOM’S RC F (No. 37) took turns driving, as clocking the time of 1’47.440, started the weekend on a good note.

Meanwhile, GAINER TANAX GT-R (No. 10) with Andre Couto and Katsumasa Chiyo pair could not get their rather hard tyres (for practice) to match the track condition as much, positioned 19th (with 1’59.060 time) in the GT300s from this session.



Soon it was 2:00pm, and the first set of attempts (Q1: 14:00 – 14:15) began. During this whole time, rain continued to wet the track.


15gt8-COU7Andre chosen to drive the Q1 attack for GAINER, in this 1st heat came back to himself (!), given tyres more well-suited to manage the qualifying trials, and delivering a P3 time result (with 1’57.469 marked), made advancement to Q2 at ease.

However, in Q2 (14:45 – 14:57) as the rain began to pour, this caused some of the machines to run off the course. Under such a condition, Andre’s teammate Katsumasa Chiyo pushed onward bravely but not being able to warm the tyres enough, finished in 8th (with 2’05.277) from the qualifying.




15gt8-COU4Andre Couto

“We took many measures and prepared ourselves between the practice and the qualifying sessions. As a result, I gave the steering over to my teammate positioning in 3rd but in Q2, rain became heavier and Chiyo could not deliver his best push. But starting from P8 is not such a bad position, still possible to catch up with the upper field. In our case, we have more tyre choices under Dry, so let’s hope that tomorrow will be sunny. As the series champion team, let’s be sure to close the season with the best possible results.”





15gt8-CAL2Over in the GT500 class, Q1 (14:20 – 14:35) LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S (No. 37) appointed their trusted Italian driver to run the first heat of the qualifying. Renewing the time and outputting good results, Andrea finished this session in P5 (with 1’48.501 marked), passed the car over to his teammate Ryo Hirakawa.

Hirakawa under heavy-wet condition throughout the Q2 (15:05 – 15:17), overwhelmed the rest with ‘godly’ strong attempts! Marking a very fast time of 1’49.738 brought the pair to grab the Pole Position at last! For LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S, this became their long-awaited 2nd PP ever since the opening round of the season.




15gt8-CAL1Andrea Caldarelli

“Qualifying turned out to be nice. Just stepping in, the machine was in a fantastic condition from the beginning which allowed us to give the Q1 attacks with good confidence. Only, in the last attempts and the last sector there was a slight loss by ten-4ths, and if without that we could have even placed P2 in the Q1 as well. Towards the Q2, I gave advice with the tyre selection, and in Q2 Ryo (Hirakawa) definitely did a good job! The key-point for tomorrow’s race should be the weather and matching of tyres, but whatever the case it may be, let’s hope that we fight well without regrets!”




November 14th (SUN)  RACE


15gt8-startRain lasted all the way till Sunday morning, and the Free Practice of 9:00 to 9:30am took place in the Wet condition. (Air temp. 18 deg. C)

Caldarelli/Hirakawa pair of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S started out the day well, as positioning 4th (1’49.968) amongst their class.

Couto/Chiyo on GAINER TANAX GT-R of the GT300s finished their session placing 10th (1’59.604) and continued preparing for the Race in the afternoon.


From Pit Walkabout to fan services given along with the team sponsors, everything proceeded according to schedule and at 13:40, it was time to Start. Rain had stopped falling by then (Air temp. 20 deg. C/Track temp. 21 deg. C) but just as all the machines gathered on the starting grid, rain came falling again. Though some teams were considering slick tyres, due to this shower which immediately wetted the track, everybody had to start on rain tyres.


However, by the formation lap weather improved with even beams of sun shining upon the circuit.


15gt8-CAL5Andrea Caldarelli of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S took a rolling start from pole position, ran through the opening lap skillfully blocking the cars sticking behind and kept his lead through the early laps. Meanwhile, the track surface gradually dried giving better chances for the rivals, but Andrea continued to hold a dominant lead in the race as building a clear gap with the cars way behind.

Soon as the race counted 20 laps down, many cars pitted in, fueled and then switched to slick tyres. Andrea also pitted after finishing 22 laps, and handed the car over to Ryo Hirakawa.


No. 37 with Hirakawa in charge, kept up a high stride in top position chalking up steady laps but then on the 27th Lap, Safety Car operation was declared due to occurrence of an accident.


15gt8-CAL7Soon after the SC run was released and the race was resumed, on the 32nd lap No. 37 could not help but over-run on Turn 1, and got passed by car no. 1 (MOTUL AUTECH GT-R) that was right behind. Nonetheless, Hirakawa initiated brave attempts to overtake car no. 1, eventually fighting tail to nose. Finally on the 43rd lap after some fierce battling, regained the lead! And clinching on to that Top position till the very end, No. 37 achieved the second pole to win of this season! As a result, the young and perfect drivers’ combination of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S – Andrea Caldarelli/Ryo Hirakawa – finished the 2015 SUPER GT series in the 5th place of the driver’s raking.



15gt8-CAL6Andrea Caldarelli

“This was really the best way to finish the season, and I am very happy. In the race we chose to go with harder-type rain tyres, so in the few laps after start (tyres were not warming) it was not easy. However, soon the sun came out and conditions got better so after that I pushed hard and tried to build as much gap I could before handing the machine over to Ryo. Ryo also fought a tough battle, and really drove strong!

After winning the opening round, in the few races following we struggled with WH, also by some mistakes we made and fell behind to win the championship, which is a bit regrettable. But this last round turned out to be a great race for us. Thank you very much to all the fans who supported throughout the season!”



15gt8-COU8Starting from P8 on the GT300 grid, Andre Couto on GAINER TANAX GT-R caught up brilliantly to P5 already by the 11th lap! Running at steady pace, after finishing 18 laps, Andre pitted and handed the machine over to Katsumasa Chiyo. Upon re-starting after the SC run, GAINER TANAX GT-R10 positioned down to P7 just for one time, but on the 34th lap was back running in P6 and in that position also finished the race.


In the Season’s End Ceremony held after the race, Andre Couto was congratulated by many fans his GT300 championship victory of the 2015 series.



15gt8-COU3Andre Couto

“During my long racing career in Japan, to stand at the Top in this big Series is really something to be proud of, I’m also honored. I was blessed with an excellent machine, good tyres, team and teammates Chiyo and Tomita all this season long, with no real trouble or mistake at all too, so WE as one, won this title together. I would like to continue my challenges in the SUPER GT series in the coming year as well. Thank you again for the warm support and cheers everybody gave!”






Andre Couto was conferred from the GT Association an award called the, “Graded Driver” which is presented to drivers who exceeded their 100th entry in the SUPER GT series during this season.