France’s Kylian Drumont has taken a stunning victory at the World Series Showdown Nations Cup, completing a Nations/Manufacturers double at his first ever official event.
After being part of the victorious Subaru team on Saturday, Drumont backed that win up with another, beating 2018 world champion Igor Fraga and two-time Tour winner Ryota Kokubun by a comfortable eight seconds.
It was a relatively inauspicious start for Drumont, as he could only place sixth overall — and fifth in the EMEA region — during the qualification event ahead of the three regional finals which saw the 29 drivers split into three groups by region. Three drivers would qualify from each, with three more places available from a second-chance repecharge among the 4th-7th-place finishers in each final.
The EMEA region was up first, with Jose Serrano on pole position as fastest qualifier overall. However it was his countryman Coque Lopez who hit the front early on, courtesy of running a flipped strategy and starting on the medium tires.
Serrano then dropped to third as Gallo stopped early and undercut, but as the race came towards its final stages Lopez had no grip on the hards and Gallo’s mediums were well past their best. That allowed Serrano to retake the lead, with Baptiste Beauvois and Drumont following on the Spaniard’s coat tails.
In the Americas region, it was polesitter Igor Fraga who’d take the win at a canter. Fraga would break away from the chasing pack very early in the race, leaving Angel Inostroza and 2020 regional champion Adriano Carrazza scrapping between themselves for second and third as WS1 winner Lucas Bonelli fell away on the harder medium tire compound.
Despite switching to the softs for the second half of the race, Bonelli had no help slipstreaming on the Daytona bankings and couldn’t close the gap to Carrazza and Inostroza, ending six seconds behind the duo who were in turn over four seconds off Fraga.
That left the Asia-Oceania finals, and a dominant display from Kokubun in the Super Formula cars. The Japanese driver simply couldn’t be matched as he streaked away to claim victory by almost ten seconds from Kanata Kawakami.
Only third place was really up for grabs, but Matthew McEwen held firm from Tomoaki Yamanaka to claim the final spot in the grand final.
With three final spots available in the repechage, all of the fourth-place drivers — Gallo, Bonelli, and Yamanaka — opted to start the race on the softer tire compound, planning to build an early race advantage and defending to the end.
It proved a sound tactic, helped by Dean Heldt — also starting on the softs — picking up an early track limits penalty and becoming an inadvertent rear-gunner for the second half of the race. Giorgio Mangano was able to close in on Heldt, but couldn’t pass and chase down the front three.
Not only did the 12 qualifying drivers reach the Showdown grand final, they’ve now also qualified for Round 2 and Round 3 in September and October, with more World Series points on offer. They also have guaranteed spots in the World Final in November where they’ll be joined by the best qualifiers from Online Season 2.
However there was still the important matter of six World Series points to fight for, and the combination of Trial Mountain and X2019s and a front-row start seemed to give Igor Fraga the advantage. This was pressed home early on as he cruised past Serrano on lap one to hit the front.
There was some intrigue further back though, as Yamanaka opted for a lap one pit stop to change from medium to soft tires in the first of a series of what looked like odd tactical decisions up and down the field.
Fraga was next on that list, pitting on laps five and six to switch from medium to hard to soft, meeting the tire requirements but also locking in at least a three-stop as neither fuel nor tires would last 24 laps. Serrano would reinherit the lead, but Carrazza would pass later in the stint to hit the front.
Meanwhile Yamanaka was now up to third despite the early stop, claiming second as Carrazza pitted. That briefly became first but the worn soft tires gave out exiting turn four and the X2019 span through 360 degrees. Ten laps, it would appear, was the limit for the softs.
Another major incident followed. As Fraga was climbing through the field on his soft tires he tangled with Carrazza, Beauvois, and Gallo, resulting in Carrazza spinning on the worst possible place on the track. The stewards judged Fraga to be at fault and gave a two-second penalty.
After running the medium tires for 15 laps, Serrano hit the pits for the first time, releasing Kokubun who, by now, had an 11-second lead over Fraga. Both stopped on lap 19 as Kokubun went for one lap on hards while Fraga elected to get fresh softs and fuel to the end of the race.
That saw Drumont, making quiet progress from seventh on the grid, hit the front for the first time — the sixth different leader so far — with a 28-second lead over Fraga in fourth, but the first car not to require another stop.
Even with fuel to the end of the race, that was enough for Drumont to pit on lap 22 and re-emerge in the lead, but only by 1.8 seconds — less than Fraga’s earlier penalty — setting up a thrilling final stint.
Fraga seemed to have the legs, especially through the first sector, and closed right up onto Drumont’s diffuser with the gap less than a tenth of a second on lap 28. However he’d asked too much of his tires and quickly fell away from Drumont on three-lap newer rubber.
Not only that, Fraga dropped back into the clutches of Kokubun, but the Japanese driver was unable to pass despite getting within a tenth on the final lap. Drumont though strolled across the line almost eight seconds clear of both to claim a debut win.
The results mean Fraga actually leads the championship at this stage, adding five points to his two for second-place finish in WS1. Drumont sits in second on six, ahead of Kokubun and Bonelli on four.
- Igor Fraga (Brazil) – 7 points
- Kylian Drumont (France) – 6 points
- Ryota Kokubun (Japan) – 4 points
- Lucas Bonelli (Brazil) – 4 points
- Baptiste Beauvois (France) – 3 points
- Jose Serrano (Spain) – 2 points
- Takuma Miyazono (Japan) – 1 point
All the racing action resumes on October 9, with the same field of 12 drivers racing in the online World Series 2 event.
See more articles on Gran Turismo World Series.