SUPER GT Rd.5 Fuji

P9 finish for both Andrea Caldarelli, Andre Couto in each of their classes


16gt5-pit walk2016 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 5 “FUJI GT 300km RACE” unfolded at Fuji Speedway (in Shizuoka Prefecture) on August 6 – 7th – in fact, at this same venue for the second time this season. Over the two days blessed with good mid-summer weather and auspices, race fans from all about gathered to see another heat of Japan’s premier SUPER GT battle take place in Fuji. (Official audience figures: August 6 (SAT) 18,400, 7 (SUN) 33,500)




August 6 (SAT)  Official Qualifying


16gt5-CAL2The program on Saturday began with the official practice session (8:50–10:35) under 29℃ temperature, still continuing to rise. 15 machines of the GT500 class, 29 GT300 machines took part in this morning’s run.

Andrea Caldarelli and Kazuya Oshima pair of LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S worked on setting the machine as they drove, and finished the session with their best time marking 1’29.864 (P5).


16gt5-COU3Andre Couto, together with Ryuichiro Tomita drove their GAINER TANAX GT-R, No. 0. Struggling with BOP (Functional adjustments are required for FIA GT3 machines) this season, No. 0 could not position any higher than P20 (time of 1’39.815) from this practice session.


At 14:25, Q1 of the official qualifying session began. No. 0 GAINER TANAX GT-R strove hard throughout Q1 but P19 result (1’39.013) was all that could be gained, and thus no advancing was made to Q2 (competed by top 14 cars) – even with last year’s champion Andre Couto on the steering, pushing with his most.


16gt5-COU1Andre Couto

“It turned into a difficult qualifying for us. I pushed and gave out my very best, also making no mistakes but this is the only position we got. Other GT-Rs faced the same struggle. Oh well, my mind is already switched to tomorrow’s race!”



16gt5-CAL6Meanwhile, in Q1 of GT500 (14:51-15:06), Kazuya Oshima was appointed to drive WAKO’S 4CR RC F and delivered strong pursuits, but the rivals all renewed their time records as well. As a result, No. 6 LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S positioned 11th with 1’29.770 recorded as their best time, which unfortunately did not allow chances for Andrea Caldarelli to show up in the Q2 fought among the top 8 qualifiers.


16gt5-CAL3Andrea Caldarelli

“We did give our best today, but it is regrettable we were not able to get better qualifying results, like how it was in Round 2 earlier this season. This circuit is a challenge for the LEXUS machines. Nevertheless, machine feeling was quite good this morning throughout the session, so in tomorrow’s long race I will just focus on going forward!”






August 7 (SUN)  Race


16gt5-gridThe mountains around Fuji were all blessed with clear skies throughout the race day as well, and in the Free Practice session that was held in the morning (9:00-9:30), temperatures were already as high as 29℃ (Track temp. 36℃). In that session, #6 of LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S clocked a P2 time (1’31.129) of all GT-Rs, giving impression that the machine has been set to a fine package for the race.


GAINER TANAX GT-R No. 0 also worked on its setting and prepared for the race as positioning 23rd in its class.


16gt5-CAL5Soon it was 14:35, – time to start the race of 300kilometers (66 laps X 4563 total track length). The temperature outside had climbed to 34℃ (Track temp. 54℃) by then, which also means more the challenge and harder conditions for all drivers. And now, the battle began by 15 cars of GT500 and 28 of GT300 – with all 43 machines together storming down the Straight glowing in hazes of heat!


Andrea Caldarelli on LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S, starting from the 6th grid of the GT500s ran at constant pace keeping the P11 standing. On the 8th lap, as overtaking one machine going to pit-in due to trouble, No. 6 was up running in P10. However from the 12th lap and forth, Andrea began calling out through the radio about “Rear tyres having issues”, and yet drove on for another while with patience. On the 19th lap, due to an accident occurring on the course, Safety Car joined the field (SC: 15:10 – 15:28) which neutralized the hard battle going on at the time. 16gt5-CAL4


Then eventually as soon as the SC run was cleared from the field on the 20th lap, other competitors started pitting in but the Pescara-born driver took this chance to notch up to P7. As finishing up the 31st lap and which by then the tyres were almost worn out, the team called Andrea back in. After a driver change, tyre change, and refueling, WAKO’S 4CR RC F headed back to the field for the last-half of the race in P10. Oshima on the steer on 41st lap overtook one car at the 1st turn, now in P9 continued his stride and finished this 5th Round in position 9, two points gained.


16gt5-CAL1Andrea Caldarelli

“It was a difficult race. For my stint, medium compound tyres were selected and then from the 10th lap or so, machine became difficult to control so I advised that with Kazuya’s stint, try different tyres. However, unfortunately during the pit stop there was also some time loss so we could not bring our position up to anywhere higher than P9. But we can say that finishing 9th is overall not bad for us who were not as competitive this whole weekend. In the next round at Suzuka, almost everyone will be under equally difficult conditions – and it will be an even tougher battle there. We have good results from the tests at Suzuka, so let’s fight with good confidence!”



16gt5-COU4GAINER TANAX GT-R in the GT300 class entrusted the first stint to Andre Couto. The Portuguese veteran driver had to draw back one position in the opening lap, but in the following round made it back to P19. From there on, step by step positioning up went successfully and by the 10th lap, up to P17. After the SC run, passing a machine which pitted in and No. 0 driven by Couto chose the strategy to stay on and do a later pit stop. In P6, Andre continued to improve his own time records driving at a steady pace.

16gt5-COU5Then as finishing the 32nd lap, Andre Couto returned to the pit and handed the machine over to Ryuichiro Tomita.

Tomita in charge of the last half of the race started his laps, renewed his best time and gradually positioned up to 11th! And on the 46th lap, one more notch up to P10 brought them inside the point scoring range! Then later in the 56th lap, passing another machine which had trouble, No. 6 was now up to P9 and got the chequer in that position.



16gt5-COU2Andre Couto

“It was a hard race for us. We couldn’t find the pace we had hoped for, but somehow finished in P9 which is by 10 positions up from Start, also scored 2 points. In the next round, all we need to do is to just give our best. Please continue to give GAINER TANAX GT-R your loud cheers!”







SUPER GT Round 6 will be staged in Suzuka over August 27-28th.