The curtain-raiser for the 2021 FIA Certified Gran Turismo Online Championship World Final gets underway today, as 24 drivers race for the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup.
Toyota’s global series is now in its third year, having run under its previous guise as the GR Supra GT Cup in 2019 and 2020. Players race special events within GT Sport using Toyota brand vehicles to qualify for the grand final. There they race off to find one overall winner.
Interestingly, every champion so far has gone on to take the Nations Cup title in the same season. 2019’s winner was Mikail Hizal, securing his title at the World Tour Tokyo event a month before the World Final, while Takuma Miyazono won in 2020 on his way to completing a clean sweep at the online-only finals.
That bodes well for the winner this year, though two races stand between them and laying hands on the trophy — and a psychological hand on the Nations Cup title too.
Firstly the 24 drivers will be divided into two groups of 12. We don’t know at the moment how the groups will be determined, but it’s like to be based on seeding. Each group then races in two identical semi-final combinations. The top eight in each semi then heads to the winner-takes-all final.
- Semi-Final: Toyota GR Yaris – Red Bull Ring – 10 laps – Comfort Soft
- Final: Toyota GR86 – Circuit de la Sarthe – 6 laps – Sport Medium
It’s a pretty impressive-looking field too, featuring the top four drivers in GTPlanet’s unofficial driver rankings, with six Gran Turismo championships between them — including the defending Toyota GR GT Cup champion Miyazono.
Top qualifier overall was the in-form Valerio Gallo, taking 1,583 points in the EMEA region. However it’s worth noting that he skipped one round in which the drivers had to use the GR Yaris semi-final car — though it was the only rally event in the online qualifying rounds — and finished behind overall runner-up Jose Serrano in the other.
Miyazono was the top qualifier in Asia, racking up 1,526 points, and outscoring second place man Tomoaki Yamanaka by a wider margin than Gallo beat Serrano. That speaks for some solid performances, though Yamanaka did outscore the champion in two of the best four rounds.
Kevan Pounder topped the table in North America, with 2020 Manufacturer Series champion Daniel Solis just behind in second, while Luca Bonelli was the best of the South America qualifiers, ahead of Angel Inostroza. Andrew Lee, who also races in the Nations Cup this year, finished top in the Oceania region.
In addition to the 21 online qualifiers, three more drivers reached the final through a special TGR competition in Asia. We’ve seen both Nathayos Sirigaya and Ben Chou race before, but Sami-Joe Abi Nahkle is a newcomer with an interesting record. He’s the 2020 world champion in WRC 9, switching disciplines to GT Sport for this event — and one to watch.
The racing action gets underway at 1400 UTC today, Friday December 3, 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