SUPER GT Rd.7 Thailand

Happy first podium place of this season for Andrea Caldarelli, Andre Couto with a bit regretful P4 finish

16gt7-circuitOctober 8th – 9th, Rd. 7 “BURIRAM SUPER GT RACE”, the only flyaway round of the 2016 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Series was staged at Chang International Circuit of Buriram, Thailand.


16gt7-pit-walkBeing this the third time SUPER GT race is held in Buriram, an ever more number of local GT fans showed up at the circuit to join the excitement and fun!

(Attendance figures officially announced: October 7 (Fri) 8,139 / 8 (Sat) 24,249 / 9 (SUN) 27,948 – in Total: 60,336)




October 8 (SAT)  Official Qualifying


16gt7-cal5Though heavy downpour struck the region the night before, SUPER GT Round 7 Official Practice in the morning (10:00 – 11:45) was held in Dry condition. At start of the session, the temperature was 28℃ but in just less than a few hours it was 31℃. Under such auspices, the 15 cars of the GT500 class and 26 of GT300 got busy working on machine settings.


In the GT500 class, car #6 (WH70kg) LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S went off to the session with Kazuya Oshima driving. Next, Andrea Caldarelli took the steer and rendered a long run, finishing the session with a P10 time (1’25.530).


16gt7-cou4Meanwhile, defending champion Andre Couto and Ryuichiro Tomita on GAINER #0 (WH48kg) finished in P12, with machine setup and conditions all looking good.


Soon the program moved on to the Qualifying sessions formatted on the knockdown style. And though thick rainclouds were seen over towards the 1st Turn, rain never fell and dry condition lasted throughout this session.





At GAINER TANAX GT-R, first it was Ryuichiro Tomita challenging with aggressive pursuits in Q1 (15:00-15:15) of GT300 class, and who resulted with a P5 time (1’33.520) as well as smooth advancing to the Q2. Andre Couto now in control of car #0 in Q2 (15:45-15:57), also pushed forward more with strong charges. As a result, Couto repeatedly updated the GT300 class course record on Chang’s track and finished the official qualifying with a P3 result (1’32.949).




Andre Couto

“It was a good qualifying session as I took the best position ever in this season. It was also the best machine condition of all we had so far, so I was able to push with confidence, especially on the high-speed corners without worries. Our pace is also good so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race!”







16gt7-cal3In Q1 (15:20-15:35) of GT500, LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S with Kazuya Oshima delivered the top time (1’24.462) breaking the course record, and obviously an easy advancement to Q2. Andrea Caldarelli was up next to drive WAKO’S 4CR RC F in the Q2. However, in the Q2 (16:05-16:17), Andrea could raise no higher time than 1’24.809, and ending with a P6 result, car #6 was to start from the third row on Sunday’s starting grid.







Andrea Caldarelli

“It wasn’t such a happy qualifying, as I happened to lock the tyres on the 1st turn and the 2nd turn, we lost time by 3/10ths … And because I know that we do have the potential to start from the front row, this is not the best outcome. Well, tomorrow’s race will be a long one, which may allow us chances to catch up from P6 so let’s give it our best – “Gambarimasu!”


October 9 (SUN)  Race


16gt7-cal2With high humidity and a haze of clouds above, Chang International Circuit on Sunday morning offered relatively pleasant conditions overall.


In the Free Practice session (9:50–10:20), LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S Andrea Caldarelli/Kazuya Oshima struck a P2 time (1’26.007) showing that the machine is in a good shape. Both drivers commented, “Perfect!” about the machine, filled with confidence for the approaching race.


16gt7-cou6In the GT300 class, Andre Couto/Ryuichiro Tomita pair on GAINER #0 in P6 (1’34.559) after gaining positive feelings from the machine, quietly waited for the start of the Race.








Time was 15:00, and finally the 66 laps (approx. 300km) of the Race got underway. Sun shining down strong and with temperatures up to 33℃, such auspices can be severe and raise the bar for every driver!




16gt7-cal12Oshima of WAKO’S 4CR RC F in GT500 started from the 3rd row. Oshima kicking off from 8th position in the opening lap kept a fine race pace and also patiently chased a machine in front for a while, finally rising to P7 on Lap 9. After that as joining the battle for 6th which also tested a bit of patience, #6 finally passed another car on the 28th lap up to P6. Meanwhile, with one machine in front backing down due to a penalty, #6 climbed another position up to P5. Eventually, as completing the 33 laps of stint, WAKO’S-color machine was entrusted to Andrea Caldarelli. In charge of this second stint running in P5, on the 47th lap Andrea began closing in to a car ahead running in fourth. Clever Italian driver, not to miss out on the smallest chances pressed hard until this rival made a mistake, and as soon as, grabbed P4 away. Then eventually, higher up to P3 since another machine was given a penalty and drew back! Keeping up the good stride in P3, #6 finished the race placing third. For Andrea Caldarelli this was the first podium-finish won this season and together with LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S!


16gt7-cal10Andrea Caldarelli

“It was a good race! I thought the best we could aim for today is P4, but we made it to P3 (onto podium). Race itself was very hard and since various things could happen in a race, my focus was anyway to bring the machine to chequer in safe. The team did very well for us and I’m very happy. In the Series Ranking too we are now 2nd, so let’s keep the good flow towards Motegi!”






16gt7-cou10Andre Couto starting in P3 of all GT300 class, with GAINER TANAX GT-R rose to P2 on the 9th lap and a bit by bit reduced the gap with the class’ race leader who went to pit-in rather early, around the 24th lap. This allowed Andre Couto to run at the top for quite a while, only until getting stuck where three GT500 machines were battling hard. Andre lost space, also collided with one of such machines (which did hard-braking) and hurt the left-side front part of the machine! Because of this, #0 had to go in for an emergency pit-in, and though the team was able to repair quickly, #0 could not help losing a few positions down. Ryuichiro Tomita up next, continued efforts driving strong in P5, then on 55th lap worked up to P4. Hanging on strongly till the end, GAINER TANAX GT-R received the chequered flag in that position.


16gt7-cou2Andre Couto

“We made every preparation aiming to win the race, but towards the end of the race on the last corner, I couldn’t help getting caught in the battle of three GT500s, plus one of them did hard-braking when exiting the corner and I couldn’t help contacting! Damage was caused to our front fender, – we also lost some positions. It was a race we could have won so I don’t know what to say other than that it is regrettable being so close to winning. This is all part of racing… and yet P4 finish is not bad so in any case let’s switch, go forward – my mind is already set on the next round.”



SUPER GT Rd. 3, but which is also the last round (*a round to make up for the Autopolis Round which had to be cancelled earlier this year due to Kumamoto earthquake), and also Rd. 8 will be staged at Twin Ring MOTEGI over November 12 – 13 (*a 2-race weekend – both Qualifying and Race for each round (Rd.3 on Sat. & Rd. 8 on Sunday) will be held respectively).