SUPER GT Rd.6 Suzuka

This season’s first podium for Andre Couto at the traditional 1000km race of Suzuka, Andrea Caldarelli also with a fine P4 result


16gt6-COU62016 AUTOBACS SUPER GT fought on 8 rounds has now come to its 6th one of the Series, while the traditional “Suzuka 1000km” celebrates its 45th holding as mentioned officially in its event title also, “The 45th INTERNATIONAL SUZUKA 1000km”.


16gt6-pitwalkOver August 27-28th, the two days of this big summertime event, total of 60,500 fans from all around Japan gathered at Suzuka Circuit to join the blazing heat of excitement at this longest-ever SUPER GT race. (Attendance figures as officially announced: August 27 (SAT) – 26,500 / 28th (SUN) 34,000)




August 27 (SAT) Official Qualifying


16gt6-CAL1Official Practice (9:20 – 11:05, Cloudy, Air temp. 29℃) held in the morning saw 15 cars of the GT500 and 29 of GT300 classes run as checking into each of their conditions. Andrea Caldarelli/Kazuya Oshima pair of LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO‘S positioned 11th in this session, with their best time of 1’48.918 and prepared towards the Official Qualifying to be held in the afternoon.



Andre Couto/Ryuichiro Tomita pair also worked on the machine setup as conducting GAINER TANAX GT-R, resulting with a P6 outcome (1’59.900) – not a bad way to start the weekend!


At 14:30, the Q1 of Official Qualifying session got underway. By then, clear skies spread above Suzuka Circuit, with the highest of the day reaching 31℃ (Track temp. 43℃).



16gt6-COU2Ryuichiro Tomita was on the steering of GAINER TANAX GT-R No. 0 in Q1 of GT300, and affirmed their advancing to Q2 with a P8 time result (1’59.211).

Then, in the Q2 (15:15-15:27) now Andre Couto showed a brilliant attack as clocking the time of 1’58.947 and with 2 more positions up, #0 finished in P6 from this session.


Andre Couto

 “For us, P6 result from the qualifying is so far the best position we got this season, so we have to be happy with this result. On top of that, among all the FIA GT3 machines, we marked the top time (laugh) so this aroused the team’s motivation. 1000km is going to be a long race of course, but together with Tomita, let’s aim at winning!”


16gt6-CAL3Kazuya Oshima of LEXUS LEMANS WAKO’S, appointed to run the Q1 (14:50-15:05) delivered strong attempts with WAKO’S-colored machine, but without any result higher than P10 (1’48.763), no advancing could be made to Q2.


Andrea Caldarelli

“We were struggling with machine balance from the morning, and tomorrow we will start from 10th position on the grid. But since we do have a good pace, plus being it a long race tomorrow, I’m not too worried with this result. Also with high chances of rain tomorrow, who knows what will happen. Anyway, all that we will do is to give our best!”


August 28 (SUN)  Race


16gt6-COU3Rain fell upon Suzuka Circuit from the morning of Race day. Due to the overall event schedule planned, this time the customary Free Practice session was not held. Hence, the teams and drivers spent such time until the Race getting ready, also giving fan-services during the Pit Walk.


Shortly after, the rain stopped and as the track started to dry gradually. At 12:30, the longest of all SUPER GT of 1000km, the 173-lap racing got underway over the 5.817km/lap course.


16gt6-COU10In the GT300 Class, Andre Couto serving the starting driver on GAINER TANAX GT-R #0 kicked off from P6 on grid showing aggressive strides already from the beginning and up running in P3 on the 2nd lap! The Portuguese expert driver pushed on throughout the early phases of the race in this position and on coming to the 25th lap, handed the “baton” to Ryuichiro Tomita. However, Tomita in his out-lap soon collided with a car going ahead! Given a drive-through penalty due to this accident, #0 lost some positions down to running in P10. After running 18 laps, Tomita returned to pit-in. And now, Andre Couto behind the wheels of GAINER TANAX GT-R again, with powerful pushes recovered several more positions up to join the race leaders pack. After driving 27 laps stint, Andre handed #0 over to Tomita.


16gt6-COU5Where the top group of GT500 entered the 89th lap of the race, one of the GT300 cars crashed, which drew the Safety Car (SC) in. By this point, GAINER TANAX GT-R was actually up running the top position of all GT300 classes! However, shortly after it was passed by another car that took the strategy of changing only two of its tyres, so Couto in P2 anyway had to sustain running his last stint in P2. Though rain showers came pouring down occasionally, the GT300 Series Champion of 2015 went forth with steadfast driving and pitted in after his 27 laps done. The last stint was entrusted to Tomita who clung onto P2 for another while, but with 2 laps to go, rain showers came down again which caused one position down to P3. Thus, GAINER TANAX GT-R #0 got the checkered flag in 3rd podium place!


16gt6-COU9Andre Couto

 “We should be satisfied as it was a good weekend for us all along. P6 from the qualifying meant Top position in the FIA GT3 too. This is also our first podium finish this season. In fact, it’s Suzuka 1000km the toughest race of all in the series and we are glad to have this result from this event. There were some unlucky moments in the race today, as well as lucky – and in the end we were able to score points (13 points) too, so it’s good. This makes us even more excited for the next round in Thailand.”




16gt6-CAL2Andrea Caldarelli of LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S behind the wheels of #6 WAKO’S 4CR RC F started from the 5th grid of the GT500s. Overtaken by one machine coming from behind on the 2nd lap, losing one position down but staying calm and focused, Andrea drove steadily in P11. On the 17th lap, at T14 was a collision (racing accident) with another competitor but unaffected, positioned up to P10. Picking up more speed and force, the Italian driver from Pescara further raised positions up in the 23rd lap and 26th lap respectively, and eventually up to P7! Then just as finishing 28 laps, #6 returned to pit-in. Machine now in his teammate Kazuya Oshima’s hands, at one time #6 was running at P9 when all GT500 teams had done the 1st routine stop. Following that, as overtaking machines going ahead, further rise of positions to P8 and then to P4 were achieved by the 49th lap.


16gt6-CAL7Then at 14:25, as everybody came upon the 55th lap, droplets of rain started to fall over the track again. Nonetheless, no change to rain tyres had to be made and #6 went for its 2nd routine stop at the point of 58 laps down.


Andrea in his second stint kept his strong stride positioning 4th and on the 70th lap when a car ahead had to move down due to penalty, Andrea positioned up to P3. Then, when finishing 86 laps and pitting in, driver change from Andrea Caldarelli to Kazuya Oshima took place. Meanwhile, at the point of 92 laps down, the SC run was cleared. WAKO’S 4CR RC F had to step down to P4 in the meantime, having to give up its position to other car closing in from behind with greater speed. Though struggling with under-steer during most of the way, Andrea’s teammate held on to the current position and entrusted the machine over to Andrea in charge of the next stint.


16gt6-CAL9Andrea Caldarelli, never easing off this race pace continued driving strong, as keeping the P4 standing, but again when the race came upon its 127 laps overall, large drops of rain suddenly seized the West Course of the circuit, and everyone was on the alert for a moment. Shortly, this rain stopped and at the point of 139 laps in the race, LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S returned to the pit for its last stop. Now Kazuya Oshima headed out to the field, assigned to run all the way to checkered flag but with 4 laps to go, #6 was passed by a car coming from behind. While running in P5, heavy drops of rain now struck the East Course, and yet Oshima stayed focused and in good control of the machine. In the final lap, a machine running in P4 stalled due to machine trouble, and therefore WAKO’S 4CR RC F finished the long race in 4th place with 10 points gained.



Andrea Caldarelli

 “I think giving our max, best efforts led us to this result. We never had a good enough pace today, such that could bring us to the podium, and the machine feeling was never perfect. However, we’re happy to have gained some points and still remain in the fight for the championship title. In the next round, let’s be sure that we are on the podium. I want to thank all the fans who were here giving us warm cheer and support!”







In regards to the large earthquake which struck the central region of Italy on August 24th, and on behalf of the entire SUPER GT, Andrea Caldarelli and Ronnie Quintarelli the two Italian drivers of this Series expressed their sincere compassion and condolences to those affected by this disaster in their home country.



Round 7 of the SUPER GT series will be held at Chang International Circuit of Thailand (Buriram region) over October 8th – 9th, which is the only fly-away race of this Series.