SUPER GT Rd.3 & Rd.8 Motegi

Andrea Caldarelli  Finishes the races in P4 & P2, – Vice-Champion of the Series, Andre Couto  Finishes the races in P5 & P18, also the 2016 season at 8th in GT300 ranking


16gt3-qf2016 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Series fought through 8 rounds now reached the very last rounds of this season with “MOTEGI GT GRAND FINAL – the “Kumamoto Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction Support Event” – over the weekend of November 12 and 13 at Twin Ring Motegi (in Tochigi Prefecture).


The weekend turned into a very special one as staging the Round 3 Autopolis (* or, what should have been the Autopolis event back in April of this year), which was once cancelled due to an earthquake disaster striking Kumamoto region at the time. Therefore, together with the season’s-closer Rd. 8, the Rd. 3 event was to be held in this same weekend. Practice sessions were held on November (Friday) instead, which were followed by Rd. 3 Race on Saturday November 12th, and also Rd. 8 (with Weight Handicap mandated) on Sunday the 13th. Thus the event was formatted into a special kind of program – actually for the first time in the SUPER GT history. This program made it difficult than ever to forecast who will be crowned the Series’ Champion. With two rounds of racing held back to back just inside one weekend, who knows what the outcome may be!?


16gt8-pwCalled “The Largest Battle in the history of SUPER GT,” this way some extreme battling could be brought on, and how fancy this will mark the grand finale of the season! The degree of excitement felt among the fans was indicated through the attendance figures as well, with many SUPER GT fans from around the country gathered about to watch races take place over two days respectively – in fact how could anyone miss these two important races at the end of the season?

(Official audience figures as announced:  Nov. 12 (SAT) 23,500 / Nov. 13 (SUN) 36,000)





November 11 (FRI)  Official Practice Session


16gt3-fpWith heavy rain pouring down upon the track, the practice session of Friday morning (9:00-10:00) had to be postponed to 13:00-14:40 of that same day. Weather had already cleared by the beginning of this session, so with just the track surface still wet, many machines chose to put on slick tyres. However, at the point of 20 minutes remaining in the session, raindrops began falling again and therefore everyone’s setting had to be re-adjusted. Amid such conditions, championship contenders Andrea Caldarelli/Kazuya Oshima pair on #6 LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S (WH 46kg) went forth targeting the Title from their ranking-2 position among 15 cars of GT500 and 28 of GT300 — everybody steaming up to fight through strongly the last of the season.


16gt3-cou7#0 GAINER TANAX GT-R (WH 32kg) under the belt of Andre Couto/Ryuichiro Tomita pair, aimed at winning its second consecutive title (GT300 class) from its current standing in 7th, also eyeing to reversely win these rounds. However on Friday morning, #0 positioned in 16th (1’57.138), as the time results on this day was counted only with the rain tyres, Andre Couto held high hopes for the race based on good confidence and positive feelings gained from the machine package.






November 12 (SAT)  Rd. 3 Official Qualifying, Race


16gt3-cou5Rain from the night before had cleared with even blue skies found with the clouds, but Wet condition persisted throughout the Official Qualifying sessions (Air temp.: 11℃, Track temp. 23℃) which took the style of one (1) driver delivering time-attacking attempts at a time.


In the qualifying for GT300 (8:35-8:50), Andre Couto on the steer of GAINER TANAX GT-R chalked up strong pursuits, and placed in P5 with fair results (1’57.059) recorded.


16gt8-cal5Meanwhile, over in the GT500 class, Kazuya Oshima assigned to begin the qualifying time-attack (during 9:00-9:15) outputted a P10 time (1’47.064).



Soon, time was 13:30 and the 53-lap Race of SUPER GT Round 3 got underway.

By then the sky over Twin Ring Motegi had completely cleared, with air temperature rising to as high as 21℃ (Track temp. 23℃), rather warm for mid-November temperatures of these local regions.


16gt3-cal2In the opening lap, WAKO’S 4CR RC F with Kazuya Oshima (up first) starting from the fifth row climbed up quickly to P8. However, due to others’ crashes on T1 and T11 during Lap 3 led to a SC run, so early phases of the race were with a bit of a stir-up. Amid so, Oshima strove with aggressive driving and on the 9th lap #6 passed a car ahead, getting up to P7! And after another two laps climbed to P6. #6 continued to battle for 5th during the few laps following but at the point of 23 laps done, had to return to the pit. After speedy tyre change and switching of drivers, now Andrea Caldarelli was in charge of pushing the WAKO-colored machine. Joining the field, the 26-year old Italian now in charge chalked up more laps at high pace, also running in P3. Only, on the 31st lap getting passed by a car which hadn’t changed tyres, #6 lost one position down to 4th. And further, at the point of 10 laps to go, as trailing closely behind and chasing a P3 machine, still the position did not improve further and the team finished in P4 (8 points gained) from the Round 3 Race.


16gt3-cal1Andrea Caldarelli

“Starting from P10 and finishing in P4 is not bad. Machine was competitive and in my stint I tried pushing as much as I could for the podium but the tyres were running down by then. Today we’re still 7 points behind the ranking-leader but let’s give it our best to catching the title and becoming the Champions!”







16gt3-cou1In the GT300 class, Andre Couto with GAINER TANAX GT-R started the race from P5, ran for a while in that position, even after the SC run. Coming to the 17th lap, finally overtaking a machine which it was struggling to pass for some laps preceding, car #0 rose to P4. Then on the 22nd lap returned to the pit to hand the machine to teammate Ryuichiro Tomita. Tomita took over the driving, did whatever he could to keep P4, but lost 1 position down on the 36th lap even after his hard pushing throughout the last half of his stint. GAINER TANAX GT-R got the chequered flag with P5 finish.




Andre Couto16gt3-cou2

“Too bad we got no further up than P5. In my stint, machine condition was very good so getting to P4, even P3 seemed possible but perhaps due to changing just the rear tyres, towards the end of the race Tomita suffered a grip-down. Actually other teams in positions higher than us were either with different tyre properties, or did no tyre change at all … For tomorrow we may have to switch gears, change our strategies, also our minds, and be sure to finish the season without regrets!”






November 13 (SUN)  Rd. 8  Official Qualifying and the Race


16gt8-gridSeason’s closing round, Rd. 8 was blessed with the finest autumn weather with not one cloud in the sky! Same as the previous day, qualifying and the race were both done in the same day.


At GAINER TANAX GT-R, the qualifying session for the GT300 class (8:40–8:55) began with Ryuichiro Tomita on the steering offering 7 laps of fantastic time-attacking attempts. But in spite of so, the team resulted with P19 (1’48.043) from the qualifying session.

In the GT500 class qualifying heats (9:05-9:20) LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO’S Andrea Caldarelli with strong pursuits took P3 with the time of 1’36.776, – perhaps a position close enough to see chances for victory in its reach.



Finally, as the clock ticked 13:30 it was time to unfold the 53 laps of the final SUPER GT battle this year!


16gt8-cal3At rolling start, #6 WAKO’S 4CR RC F with Andrea Caldarelli kicking off from the second row on GT500 grid ran in P2 already on the opening lap chasing #39 (DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC-F). Clinging onto that position throughout the stint, on the 21st lap Andrea stopped for pit-in as scheduled. Andrea’s teammate Kazuya Oshima then took over machine as keeping P2 through the last half of the race. Closing up and minimizing the gap with the top, at the point of 10 laps to go in the race, #6 was marking times even in 1.23 seconds’!! Going tail-to-nose throughout the remaining laps, threatening the race leader as seeking to overtake just any time, such battling continued all the way to the very last lap… But in the end, finishing the race in P2 and placing 2nd in the Series Ranking (with 69 points) as well, the hard-fought 2016 season for this SUPER GT team finally came to an end.


16gt8-cal4Andrea Caldarelli

“It was really a challenging race, especially as we were trying for winning the title. Earlier in the race, we tried saving on the tyres while the gap with the top was only within 1 second, and in the last half of the race we had even a quicker pace than #39. Kazuya did great with a good pace, and we were able to take 2nd place on the podium. Also with LEXUS teams dominating all top 5, – and out of which #39 also winning the Series Champion are truly the results of hard work by TOYOTA/TRD. Let me just say how proud I feel to be part of such a Family.

Also this year was the first year for me joining a new team. There was really much to learn. And what is for sure is that our team sits inside a group of some of the quickest machines, plus we running second to the champion of this group also makes me feel glad. I want to thank the fans also for the great encouragement they gave us throughout the year Thank you very much for all the warm support.”



16gt8-cou5GAINER TANAX GT-R #0 with Andre Couto, having to start the Rd. 8 race from the back rows, was down to P21 just in the opening lap, but by the 5th lap already recovered P19. On the 9th lap getting up to P18 and finishing 17 laps in that standing, the steer was handed to Ryuichiro Tomita. Tenacious driving and thriving by Tomita brought GAINER TANAX GT-R up to P15, which also became the final result and position for this team. Therefore, after all 8 rounds fought, Andre Couto completed his 2016 SUPER GT in 8th (with 36 points) of the series ranking.



Andre Couto

“It didn’t turn into the best race for our team today. Based on yesterday’s race, we gambled to choose different tyres which weren’t matching and compatible with the track already from qualifying. However, we couldn’t help but go with those tyres, so not much racing could be done today. It’s too bad our strategies didn’t succeed and we could not end with higher results. Our apologies go to the fans who supported us greatly, and yet having to see only such results…

We will give our best efforts again next year, and may next year’s battles be just as exciting for everyone following us. Please continue to stay by our side!”