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Round 5 of the 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series

Round 5 of the 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series


Round 5 of the 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, the 42nd “International Pokka Sapporo 1000km” race was staged at Suzuka Circuit over August 17th to the 18th on a truly grand scale again this year as a key motorsports event fiesta of the midsummer, always characterized by being a long race of 6 hours! Usually held during the highest peak of summer holidays, a large number of GT fans gather about the circuit each year.

On Saturday with a great stretch of summer skies spreading above, from 9:20am, the official practice session of 2 hours got off to a start. The machines of the two classes GT500 (15 cars) and GT300 (24) entered the course all together at once, each working on the setting and affirming of the machine conditions. From this session, LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S positioned 4th with the time of 1’53.040.

At 14:00 (Air temp: 34 degrees C / Track temp.: 45 degrees C), first the qualifying session (the Q1) by the GT300 began, then followed by the Q1 of the GT500 class.

The driver to take car No. 37 KeePer TOM’S SC430 to the field first was Andrea’s teammate Daisuke Ito, who marked the 6th position time (1’53.399) and brought the team to move ahead to Q2 which is a heat amongst the top 8 qualifiers. Then, at 15:00, in charge of pursuing the time-attacking in Q2, Andrea Caldarelli took control of the car also slightly renewing the time (1’53.216) but even then finished this session standing at 7th. The hopeful Italian SUPER GT driver commented, “The over-steer we felt this morning was improved a little, but still, the setting is not adapting as much to the track surface”.

For the race In this race four pit stops are mandated for everyone, almost every team scheduled to make five stints. On LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S, the first stint was entrusted to veteran driver, Daisuke Ito. Rolling-start from the 7th on grid, car No. 37 chalked steady laps retaining that position and gradually rose to 5th position as watching the rivals all go in to make early pit stops. Eventually, after running 33 laps, No. 37 went to the pit for tyre change, refueling, and also driver change with Andrea Caldarelli in charge of the second stint. Andrea held on strong to P5 all through his stint until making a pit-in on the 69th lap when the SC entered the field. Then Ito, in charge of the third stint went back out again; only however a rival who had just finished pit-stop, there grabbed away the lead, and when the SC withdrew and the race was to re-start again, car 37 in the KeePer color somewhat paced down on around the 100th lap, and drew back to P8.

Then soon, while one of the cars having to position down issued with a penalty for misconduct during the SC, Ito in 7th place strived ever harder in the fight for P6 with another car, no. 36. Gradually however, the pace somewhat dropped and the position went down to P8 again. On the 106th lap of the race, Ito brought the car back into the pit and after another switch-over, now Andrea Caldarelli was up again to begin the 4th stint. The mighty Italian SUPER GT driver gave a strong push throughout, running at 7th. Then, as passing a few machines that either lost positions by penalty, or by losing ground such as coursing-off Andrea worked the way back to 6th and held onto that position for another while. Upon finishing the 141st lap, the car was then given to teammate Daisuke Ito again. Ito also gave his utmost push till the end, and thus the team achieved a 5th place finish, 6 points gained.

“It was really a tough race, – hot and a long. In my first stint, we did not have to worry so much about under-steer, and could push quite a bit with confidence but in the second stint as perhaps the track temperature lowered, with even a slight push, we could almost spin out and I was really driving on the edge! But in any case we are glad to win some points. Please do count on us, also in the next round, – Gambarimasu! (we’ll give our best)”

Andrea Caldarelli background