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Podium for Andrea Caldarelli

Podium for Andrea Caldarelli


This circuit in the Tohoku region of Japan, where the end of the rainy season has not been declared as of yet, was under unstable weather conditions all weekend long, but the two-day total of 36,000 race fans gathered about, greatly entertained with the dynamic racing actions that only SUPER GT can bring.

Due to the rainy, wet condition from the previous day, the Official Practice session began from 08:45AM in the Wet condition. But after all, there was no rainfall in spite of the clouds and signs showing up in the skies, and the track even started to dry as the session progressed. Due to the thick fog however, bad visibility became a problem for everyone, and therefore the session had to be red-flagged for three times. In the meantime, all the teams and drivers worked on completing the setups on their machines eyeing the qualifying session to come in the afternoon. Andrea Caldarelli of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S (No. 37) positioned 5th (1’17.561) from this session.

At 14:15, covered by lingering thick clouds up above, the course was still addressed to be under the Dry condition and following the first 15 minutes of qualifying (the Q1) by the GT300 class, next the Q1 of 15 GT500 cars got under way.

Andre Caldarelli behind the wheels of KeePer TOM’S SC430, gave strong pushes and attempts, but with No. 37 in Position 10 (1’15.689). “This morning I checked into the balance with slick tyres, and tried aiming at a good position in Q1. But while we worked on the setting, the track condition also improved and now the balance became somewhat different instead. We couldn’t clock the kind of time that we had hoped for, but in the race we will definitely try get back whatever we fell short!”.

Race day opened under cloudy skies and with the morning Free Practice session (9:00-9:30). And though Wet condition was announced, everyone made the last tuning-ups into their machines with slick tyres.

Andrea Caldarelli appointed the starting driver of LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S kicked off from P10, as running steady laps from Start. Passing 5 cars including those rivals who left the upper field in the early phase of the race, the Italian driver in his second year competing in the SUPER GT series climbed to 5th by the 18th lap. After 34 laps down, the steering was handed to Daisuke Ito. The car now in the hands of veteran driver Ito, who is of last year’s winners in this same Sugo event, retained that position for another while at high pace. However, from around the 55th lap droplets of rain started to fall. Every machine struggled under the same slippy track conditions and what’s worse, with the wear of the tyres progressing, everybody got desperate trying to maintain their pace in the last phase of the race. Then, surprisingly on the 70th lap, the top four cars which were battling fiercely were involved in accidents, and suddenly No. 37 found itself leading the race! Shortly after, as being overtaken however by car 8 (ARTA HSV-010) which was closing in from behind, KeePer TOM’S SC430 seized the 81 laps of this rough battle, chequer-flagged in 2nd place (15 points gained).

“I am so glad we could finish in 2nd place. After yesterday’s qualifying we were able to solve the problems we had and prepare to really fight in this race. In my stint, I moved up positions from 10th to the 5th but still retained the pace to keep up with the car ahead, and that was good. Only, in yesterday’s qualifying we used those tyres which were rather overused — like 10 times more compared to other times, so in the last part of the race the tyres were wearing down and getting to be quite tough but the machine was handed over to Daisuke without particular problems. Today’s achievement will definitely help to lift us up and be in a good note to aim for even better results in the next round!”

Andrea Caldarelli background