With the Toyota GR GT Cup setting a high standard and delivering a thrilling finale yesterday, it’s time for the official FIA Certified Gran Turismo Online Championship World Finals to get underway.
As usual that starts with the Manufacturer Series, and that’s already pretty finely poised thanks to the “World Series” format employed for the online-only 2021 event.
Across the course of this season, drivers have been accumulating points for their brands in five events. That’s consisted of World Series 1 and 2, for which the marques qualified through the 2020 World Final, and the Showdown and World Series 3 and 4 which took brands from their Online Stage 1 performances.
That’s meant a maximum of 22 points on offer through the season, with three for each World Series round and 10 for the Showdown. These points carry through to the World Final where another 48 points are available, and the brand with the highest total across the season will become champion.
Unlike the earlier championship rounds, the World Final brings back the three-driver team format. Each of the marques will have three competitors to represent them and, as driver swapping isn’t possible outside of the live events, each must drive one race.
However, not all races are equal. The first two in the World Final will award a maximum of 12 points, with 10 for second, 8 for third, and one point less for each spot down to tenth — with zero to 11th and 12th spots. That last race though carries double points.
The format for today’s racing action is as follows, with all tire grades listed being mandatory and requiring pit stops in order to change them:
- Race 1: Gr.3 – Autodrome Lago Maggiore GP II – 10 laps – Racing Medium
- Race 2: Gr.3 – Tokyo Expressway East Outer Loop – 10 laps – Racing Soft/Medium
- Final: Gr.3 – Nurburgring 24h – 5 laps – Racing Soft/Medium/Hard
As things stand, it’s Toyota and Mazda tied at the top of the table on 13 points, with defending champion Subaru an effective third — Peugeot has not qualified for the Final — on nine. Given the points on offer in the finals races, that’s a pretty tight margin but could make all the difference come the checkered flag.
The strength of the driver field is nothing short of incredible, with eight GT Sport world championships between them. Four of those come in the Toyota squad, with newly crowned Toyota GR GT Cup champion Tomoaki Yamanaki again teaming up with Igor Fraga as they seek to recapture their 2019 Manufacturer Series crown. Third seat in the team is Coque Lopez, who isn’t exactly slow.
Main rival Mazda can boast triple World Tour winner Ryota Kokubun, who won the Showdown this season with the brand, as it looks for a first title. He’s joined by lightning fast Canadian Jeff Gallan in his third finals, and newcomer Miroslav Kravchenko who’s been routinely running at the top of the highly competitive EMEA region for a few season.
Team Subaru retains two-thirds of its championship-winning team from 2020, as Takuma Miyazono — who completed a clean sweep last season — and Daniel Solis reunite for the final. R8G Esports driver Thomas Scibilia joins the team having qualified for his first finals at the first opportunity as he’s only just turned 18.
That’s by no means the end of the challengers though. Current Nations Cup points leader and Olympic champion Valerio Gallo will race again for Honda, alongside the returning Shohei Sugimori and newcomer Joao Pessoa. Jose Serrano, the nearest thing to a thorn in Gallo’s side this year, races for Porsche alongside World Series 1 winner Angel Inostroza and the highly talented Tatsuya Sugawara.
Mercedes is, as usual, well worth keeping an eye on, with Lucas Bonelli, Baptiste Beauvois, and Kazuki Cho at the helm. Bonelli has been super consistent across all five World Series events this year, and Beauvois was unlucky not to be Olympic champion after two race wins in the event. We’d also keep an eye on Volkswagen, with Thomas Labouteley, Hiroshi Okumoto, and Roberto Sternberg driving.
The racing action gets underway at 1400 UTC today, Saturday December 4, and you can catch it all below.
- French language stream
- German language stream
- Italian language stream
- Japanese language stream
- Portuguese language stream
- Spanish language stream