Dominant Performance Seals 2021 FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships Titles
Last weekend (3-5 December) was the fourth FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships World Finals and our last on GT Sport before moving on to GT7 next year. This imminent change was highlighted when Porsche unveiled their exciting new all-electric Vision Gran Turismo GT7 car as part of Sunday’s Nations Cup broadcast. It was also great to see Lewis Hamilton make an appearance to congratulate our 2021 Nations Cup champions.
All in all, the World Finals were another huge success – for the second year running, distance racing and recording took place. The freedom we have in the series makes it fascinating that we can create very different races in different cars for the final, and those scenes really impress. You can also identify the different characters of our competitors.
It really struck me this weekend how high the level of the participants has become. They are all so fast, and so it all comes down to very tight margins, having the strength to run 100% the entire race and, dare I say, a little bit of luck sometimes.
The weekend started on Friday with the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup. Although not part of the official championships, action is always guaranteed in the Toyota GR Yaris and new GR86 cars. The final race around the famous Circuit de la Sarthe saw veteran Japanese driver Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) take the win by just four-tenths of a second over last year’s champion Takuma Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20). It was also really nice to see another Japanese driver, Rikuto Kobayashi (TX3_tokari71), come in third. Not because he is Japanese, but because he is only 16 years old and a very exciting prospect for the years to come.
Saturday Manufacturer Series World Final was poised to be another very exciting Series climax with Team Toyota and Team Mazda leveling off after this year’s World Series events.
In the end Mazda was unable to do anything despite three impeccable performances from Brazil’s Igor Fraga (IOF_RACING17), Spain’s Coque López (coqueIopez14) and Japan’s Tomoaki Yamanaka. For Fraga and Yamanaka, it was their second Manufacturer Series win for Toyota, having won the Boccioni-inspired trophy in 2019.
López started with the win in Race 1 at the Autodrome Lago Maggiore – GP II for Yamanaka – starting from pole safely thanks to the Race 1 win – drove beautifully and took advantage of taking a different tire strategy to the rest of the field to win on the Tokyo Expressway – East Outer Loop. Igor Fraga has shown to be a big fan of the 24-hour Nürburgring circuit, maintaining his concentration and lead throughout the five laps of the 25.4km circuit. On the team radio you can hear that these three compete with each other as a team and work hard for each other behind the wheel or on the strategy.
Team Mazda finished the year second in the points standings and struggled to come back from a disappointing seventh in the opening race, despite finishing third in Race 2 and second in Race 3. The top three was rounded out by Team Porsche with a single points advantage over the fourth-placed Mercedes-Benz.
The world final of the Nations Cup on Sunday, 32 participants saw 18 different countries and territories represent. Three regional semi-finals would create the 16-driver field for the grand final.
The Asia-Oceania semi-final played out on an intriguing combination of the Mazda Roadster Touring Car on Australia’s Mount Panorama circuit and delivered extremely exciting racing. A thrilling finish saw 2020 Nations Cup champion Takuma Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20) win the race by three tenths of a second.
Then it was the turn of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, which featured three of the top four in the points table, including Italy’s Valerio Gallo, who has been in incredible shape all year round. Only the top six finishers would advance to the Grand Final and anything was possible in a 15-lap race around Autodromo Nazionale Monza No Chicane in Gran Turismo’s version of an 1980s formula car, the F1500T-A.
A daring tire strategy by Spain’s Coque López almost paid off, but it was Gallo and his closest rival on the points list, Spaniard Jose Serrano (PR1_JOSETE), who enjoyed a stunning battle on the final lap. Gallo took the checkered flag by four hundredths of a second to extend his lead in the points table.
The North, Central and South American Semifinals was an incident-packed event around the Blue Moon Bay Speedway – Infield A in identical Ford GTs. With only five places up for grabs in the grand final, Lucas Bonelli (BRA) (TGT_BONELLI) crossed the finish line first, followed by Igor Fraga (BRA), Angel Inostroza (CHI) (YASHEAT_Loyrot), Juan Hernandez (GUA) ( TX3_Kangreti) and Andrew Brooks (CAN) (PX7-Deafsun), who took last place in the Grand Final.
Gran Turismo’s original Dragon Trail – Seaside track was the stage for the Grand Final with another Ford GT car, this time the LM Spec II Test Car, providing the hardware. The 16 best Gran Turismo drivers in the world lined up on the grid. Serrano had done everything he could to stay in the game by taking pole position just three hundredths of a second from arch-rival Gallo.
Gallo had a strong start, but with several pit stop strategies in play, it was difficult to call.
On lap 18 of 22, a mistake by Miyazono allowed Gallo to retake the lead. Incredibly, however, on the penultimate lap Frenchman Baptiste Beauvois (R8G_TSUTSU), who had started last after a costly mistake in qualifying, passed Gallo and took the lead on the softer tire while Gallo had to run to the end on the media . A small mistake caused Gallo to come back around on the last lap and he was able to cling through the last few corners for the race and championship win.
Fourth on track ahead of Serrano, he was second overall. Miyazono’s drive to third in the Grand Final put him third in the points, just ahead of Beauvois, whose inspired drive took him to fourth overall.
Once again it was a very exciting World Finals weekend and congratulations to all our champions who will be honored later this month at the FIA awards ceremony in Paris. I also want to say a huge thank you to all the drivers who participated in this year’s Online Series and World Series events.