With 14 seasons, 110 starts, and a GT300 Drivers’ Championship to his name, André Couto is one of the Autobacs Super GT Series’ most successful and experienced foreign drivers.
On Saturday, D’station Racing announced that Couto will return to the series for Round 3 of the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series, the Super GT in Kyushu 300km at Autopolis circuit, driving alongside Tomonobu Fujii in the #33 D’station Porsche 911 GT3-R.
The 40-year-old Macanese veteran tested for the team in March at Fuji Speedway, and will be in action for the next three rounds of the championship in place of rookie Sven Müller, who will be out of action due to prior commitments in the ADAC GT Masters championship in Germany.
Couto will make his Super GT return at Autopolis, where just a little over a year and a half ago, he clinched his first Super GT drivers’ title for the Gainer Nissan GT-R team driving with Katsumasa Chiyo and Ryuichiro Tomita.
It was an emotional moment for Couto, not only on a professional level, but on a personal level as well – as it was his first championship title after his son Afonso passed away in November 2010 from leukemia.
In 110 career races – 90 in the GT500 class from 2001 to 2013, Couto has two victories each in GT500 and GT300, fourteen podiums (9 in GT500, 5 in GT300), and one pole position. He was runner-up in the GT500 championship with Toyota Team SARD in 2004, and in 2000, he became the first and only driver from Macau to win the Macau Grand Prix Formula 3 race.
Couto and Tomita finished eighth in last year’s GT300 championship driving for Gainer.
After being replaced by Hiroki Yoshida in the #10 Nissan GT-R, Couto was first rumoured to join Lamborghini Team Direction, but the team suspended activities in the offseason. That led to a test for D’station Racing in March, while Müller was competing in the first round of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring.
He and co-driver Fujii will form one of the most experienced driver pairings in GT300, with both drivers having 100 career races under their belt.
Couto will also join a D’station Racing team carrying momentum, off an outstanding third-place finish at the Fuji GT 500km Race, thanks to some incredible driving during the race from Fujii and Müller.
Müller, the reigning Porsche Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup Germany champion, will miss Rounds 3 through 5 due to his ADAC GT commitments with Porsche, which all clash with the Super GT calendar. He is expected to return in late August for the 46th International Suzuka 1000km. We wish Sven the best of luck in the races to come for him in Germany.