- December 14, 1976
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Andre Couto is a Macanese racing driver, born on December 14, 1976, in Portugal, who currently competes in the sports car races with GT cars. His biggest success in a career is a championship title in the GT300 class of the 2015 Japanese Super GT Series. Couto is a regular competitor in the Japanese GT races since 2004.
Earlier in a career, which started in 1995, he was driving single-seaters, scoring the 2000 Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix victory as his most notable result. He was the first Macanese driver ever to win the famous Macau Grand Prix.
Starting a career with go-karts in Macau
Andre Couto was born in Lisbon (Portugal) but moved to Macau with his family when he was four. He started his career driving go-karts in Macau, progressing to the level of the Formula A World Championship. At the age 18, he switched to bigger race cars, competing in the 1995 Formula Opel Euroseries. After scoring one victory (Estoril), he finished fifth in the points.
Formula Opel Lotus Nations Cup winner in 1995
As a member of Team Portugal, he won the 1995 Formula Opel Lotus Nations Cup at Circuit Magny-Cours, together with Manuel Giao. In November 1995, he debuted at Macau Grand Prix, driving for Prema Powerteam and finishing in the 6th place.
In 1996, Couto moved to the German Formula 3 with Prema Powerteam but also participated in few rounds of the Italian Formula 3. He was 13th in the German championship. He participated in all traditional Formula 3 non-championship races (Monaco GP, Macau GP, Masters of F3), finishing best in the 8th place at his home track in Macau.
Italian Formula 3 championship runner-up
In 1997, Couto spent a full season in the Italian Formula 3, still driving for Prema Powerteam. He was the championship runner-up, losing a title to Oliver Martini. At 1997 Macau Grand Prix, he was seventh.
Since 1998, Couto's main competition was the Formula 3000 International. He was 11th in his first F3000 season with Prema Powerteam. In 1999, he joined Prost Junior team and finished 13th in the Championship. Next year, he was 17th.
Macau Grand Prix winner in 2000
While scoring average results in the Formula 3000, Couto sensationally clinched a victory at Macau Grand Prix in November 2000. He was driving the #10 Dallara F399 (Opel) for Opel Team BSR (Bertram Schafer Racing). In the qualifying race, he finished in the second place, behind Pierre Kaffer. In the main race, he won the race ahead of Paolo Montin and Ryo Fukuda. It was the first Macau Grand Prix victory for Macanese driver.
2001 – the first season in Japan
After three seasons in the Formula 3000, Couto moved to Japan, participating in the same season in the All-Japan GT Championship and Formula Nippon. In the single-seater competition, he was driving Honda-powered G-Force for Team Nova, finishing 11th in the points. His experience in the GT racing was more successful, as he manages to win one race in the McLaren F1 GTR of Team Take One. He and Hideki Okada won the race at Central Park Mine Circuit, finishing in the 9th place at the end of the season.
Worlds Series by Nissan in 2002, ETCC in 2003
In 2002, Couto returned to single-seaters for one more last season, participating in the World Series by Nissan. He was driving for the Italian team Vergani Racing. He scored one pole position and four podiums, finishing seventh in the championship.
In 2003, Couto switched to something completely different – the European Touring Car Championship. He was driving the #10 Honda Civic Type-R for the Italian PRO Motorsport. In 18 races he started, his best result was 6th place at Donington Park and he finished 18th in the points.
Japanese GT Championship regular since 2004
In 2004, Couto decided to race in Japan again. This time, it turned to be a longstanding decision because he stayed the regular Japanese GT competitor until today. He was driving the #39 Toyota Supra for Team SARD, sharing a car with Frenchman Jeremie Dufour. They scored two podiums and a victory (Sepang), finishing second in the championship. It remained Couto's career-best result in GT500 class.
Driving for Team SARD until 2010
Couto stayed with the Team SARD for six more seasons, until the end of 2010. In 2005 and 2006, he was driving Toyota Supra, after that Lexus SC430 was his car. After an initial success in 2004, Couto's results were average, with just three podiums in six seasons. He was sharing cars with Ronnie Quintarelli (2005), Katsuyuki Hiranaka (2006, 2007), Toranosuke Takagi (2008) and Kohei Hirate (2009, 2010).
Racing with Lexus until 2013
For the 2011 Super GT season, Couto joined Lexus Team Kraft, to drive the #35 Lexus SC430 along with Juichi Wakisaka. Without wins or podiums, they were 15th in the GT500 classification. In 2012, Couto moved to Lexus Team WedsSport Bandoh, improving his results in a companion with Seiji Ara. They were on a podium two times, finishing 9th in the championship. The season 2013 was the last with Lexus, again with Seiji Ara as a co-driver. They finished 14th in the points.
Regular participant at Macau WTCC race from 2005 to 2012
While driving for Lexus in the Japanese GT Championship, Couto had regular one-off appearances in the Macanese round of the World Touring Car Championship at Macau Guia Circuit, as a guest driver for different teams. His first WTCC race was for Alfa Romeo Racing Team in 2005, at the wheel of the #56 Alfa Romeo 156. He retired due to an accident on lap 2 of the first race and didn't start the second race.
In 2006, he was driving factory-entered Seat Leon, finishing 7th in the Race 2. It remained his best WTCC result. In the following years, he returned to WTCC with Alfa Romeo (2007), N.Technology's Honda Accord Euro R (2008), SUNRED Engineering's Seat Leon 2.0 TFSI (2009), SR-Sport's Seat Leon TDI (2010), SUNRED's Seat Leon 1.6T (2011) and Tuenti Racing's Seat Leon 1.6T (2012).
GT300 champion in 2015 with Nissan GT-R
In 2014, after spending ten years in the GT500 class of the Japanese GT championship, Couto switched to GT300 class, joining Pacific Racing to drive a Porsche 911 GT3. He participated in four rounds, with 7th place as the best result. Next year, he moved to Gainer team to drive the #10 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. His teammates were Katsumasa Chiyo and Ryuichiro Tomita. With two wins and two more podiums in eight races, Couto became the GT300 champion.
In 2016, Couto was defending his title with Gainer's Nissan GT-R, sharing a car with Ryuichiro Tomita. Their best result was third place at Suzuka and they were 8th in the final standings.
New challenges in 2017
In the 2017 season, Couto had no full-time seat in any of Super GT teams. He was a replacement driver in one race, instead of Sven Muller, in the #33 Porsche 911 GT3 R of D'Station Racing team. His co-driver was Tomonobu Fujii.
In May 2017, Couto traveled from Asia across the ocean to debut in the American-based Pirelli World Challenge, driving a Bentley Continental GT3 for Absolute Racing.
Photos: Andre Couto FB,