GT Sport FIA Championship 2018, from the living room to the dream by SkyPikmin

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Hello everyone, I might be a bit late but here it is, I'll post here everything that I did before and and after the world finals :)

I'll make it into 5 chapters, I Qualification for Monaco - II Monaco - III Saint-Petersburg FIA Prize-giving - IV Tokyo - V Conclusion

So let's get started ;)


FIA / GTC 2018, My whole story

I Qualification for Monaco

First here is the story of "how i qualified" :lol:, I did qualify after a 2 and a half month of try hard, i played gt sport every single day since mid june to the end of the last top 24 race at Interlagos except one day after the second race of season 3 where i was a little bit down due to poor FIA race result and felt like one day off would help me to stay in the competition mode for the rest of season 3.

Season 1 was quite scary for me as I chosen to drive for Lexus (and i think i'll stay there for a long time now :lol:) and so as you may all be aware, the manufacturer that you chose in season 1 was the one you would run for until the end of the season, and for Lexus they were a lot of really great drivers involved (derek737_DK, Oscaro_Fab99Gd, GTP_Aderrrm for example) so i was a little bit scared when i though of my chances of getting through to world finals with this manufacturer, and then I somehow managed to end season 1 1st for Lexus (11th overall in EMEA region) by an 11 point margin to derek737_DK !!! My hopes were growing up in my mind pretty hard at this moment :lol: (I also took part in nations cup season 1 and finished 3rd for France (14th EMEA) by winning the 2 races i decided to take part in, but decided to dedicate myself only on manufacturer series in season 2 and 3 seeing the level of competition in Lexus and the fact that only 3 french guys would qualify for regionals and knowing the awesome level of competition in France).

Then in season 2, I managed to reach the top 24 at Le Mans and I finished the season 1st for Lexus and 14th EMEA. Nothing really interesting to say for that season apart that it was the last season before the tires grip update so everyone was expecting some changes at the top of the leaderboard for season 3.

And finally it was there, the deciding season, the start of a one month race that would only finish in the last top 24 race at Interlagos. It was pretty much between me and Fab99Gd for Lexus representative, so my biggest rival was also my teammate with who I shared a lot of tips on how to run the Lexus cars (and he did the same to me). So I was quite scared because i obviously knew how fast he could be :lol:
The first 2 races where pretty much the worst races I've ever had at that time so I was really down after those, knowing that these results would count to enter the first and second top 24 races of the season, then i took a one day break from the game and it seemed to turn out being the right choice.

I did very good results in the 3 following races, even winning my race split on round 4 giving me an awesome 2731 points, then first top 24 was quite a mess (no need to talk about the bug on starting grid again :lol:) but it was not as bad as it seems because my rival Fab didn't had a good race either, then on round 7 I did pretty well and finally my objective was done, scoring at least 4 2000+ points races before the last Top 24 SS (because the last top 24 would replace my worst result anyway as they only took the 5th best scores to do the total), round 8, top 24 at Monza, i did qualify pretty well (8th i think) but I got eaten by the pack without any way to answer because of the lack of top speed i had on straights at Monza and it was really hard to fight, didn't do a good result but again, Fab either did not scored as many points as he could so I was still 1st for Lexus.

Round 9 is where I pretty much secured my spot, as we did the maths to know how much points would be needed to be in the last top 24 where all could have changed, and I was already in by some margin, but Fab wasn't, he needed to win/finish 2nd in round 9 to qualify for top 24 at Interlagos, unfortunately for him, some disconnect (due to servers) did lowered the points that were on offer for the split, I managed to finish 2nd and only scored 1877 points while Fab ended up 4th I think, so no regrets for him as he might not have qualified even with full split points.

Before sharing my last top 24 race story I would like to give a shout out to Fab99Gd, as he pushed me hard on my limits to be able to beat him, and I think this competition made me a better sim-racing driver so I really want to thank him for the competition we had throughout the 3 seasons ;)

So, time to finally have a "no-pressure" race :lol: and what a race it was ! I qualified 5th on the grid, finally taking a really good spot at the start, was a little bit messy due to some guys that already wanted to jump me on the start but so far it went well for me, I didn't battle for position in 1st stint, letting rick-918-bmx and force-ewerby pass me, then on 2nd stint I had a really clean battle with force-ewerby, and I managed not to take any penalties in the entire race, I was 6th at last turn and jumped rick and force on the line to finally take 4th in this race ! I finished the season 1st for Lexus and 5th overall in EMEA Region !

That was my story on the manufacturer series world final qualification ;)

Obviously during all the official seasons I was keeping statistics tables updates to scout everyone strenght to maximise my chances to qualify :lol:

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II Monaco

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So it was time to go to the event I've been waiting for for months, short trip, but one of the last to arrive :lol: As soon as I entered the hotel, I felt great, checked-in, took my bag, and went to another room th choose the gloves and the shoes ;)

Then I met the other french guys, we discussed a little and went down for diner with everyone, first time I saw Yamauchi san in real life :bowdown: and he went to each of us to thank us for coming to the event, everyone was like "thank you for inviting us here" :lol:

Next morning, we met our teammates, and did the teams photos, with my 2 teammates (to whom I am the most grateful in the world, again I want to thank you guys, you both are amazing, and I hope our friendship will go through the years and hopefully we can team up again ;) ) , we had already trained ourselves online together, so we immediately started to talk about strategy and racecraft for the race on saturday :lol: Everyone was cool, we talked to each other as friends immediately and that's what is so nice about Gran Turismo, everyone feels great and part of the family immediately when meeting everyone, we had a lot of funny moments :lol:
In the afternoon we went for the sightseeing tour, where I had to explain to policemen what were all those guys wearing red jackets doing here :lol:

Then we came back at the hotel where the Nations cup qualifying session was about to end, we entered the playing room and it was amazing, the stage, the cars... everything was awesome :eek:

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Some guys immediately went for training on the rigs in the other room but these weren't the same as the ones on stage, I tried them to have a feel of the game and I was surprisingly close to the times I could achieve at home, so I was a little bit less stressed for the event :lol:

Thursday night we went to the Rascasse bar, great moment with everyone, french guys were drinking trying to forget their qualifying session :lol:

Then on Friday we went for the Prince's car collection (an event that Slentom missed because he overslept due to the previous night :lol:
And it was already time for the Nations cup semi-final event, a great event to watch, lot of emotions in the room, especially on the repechage race, that battle between Suswillo and Salazar was awesome to watch from Salazar's point of view, and with Sergio Fonseca that was hyping up the room for Salazar, that was a great moment, then we had diner in an other bar, where we could share with the other guys our feelings, and get to know each other better and it was time to sleep before the race day for all of us manufacturer series drivers.

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And it was it, Saturday the 17th of November 2018, the day of the most important race ever for me, I woke up quite stressed, went for breakfast, and then to the venue, I saw some Japanese drivers trying to get some rest on the sofas in the training room, and looked at the guys that were playing to see how they were all doing. Time for the first driver briefing, very professional, clear, but with some changes to the race settings that were going to have an impact on our strategy ! Indeed, with only x1 fuel consumption, we didn't had to refuel a lot to go the entire race, but with x2, it was not the same thing at all ! So my teammates and I had a quick talk and we were all on the same idea we already decided online which tires each one was going to use, so we just had to decide of the the driver order, so it was decided that Kawakami san would run flat out (or close to) with the softs for 3 laps, then I would try to save a bit of fuel and not loose too much time on hards, and Tyrell would use the mediums at the end and push to finish strong. All of the strategy was based on a good qualifying lap by Kawakami san, otherwise it wouldn't work...
Another good thing for us was that we only had to adjust the seat once in the race as Kawakami and I were using the same seat setting, and for the wheel, again me and Kawakami san were using 5/10 at home, and Tyrell adapted himself to us so we had the best chance to do great.
So time for training, 1h30, to share between the 3 drivers, so we decided to do a race simulation, Kawakami san 3 laps, me 2 laps and then Tyrell 2 laps, and then to let Kawakami san train for the qualifying session. I went off-track once during my stint, and that affected me quite badly, I decided to take it slowly but safe, thinking that I would loose less time by releasing the throttle in some parts than if I spun or hit the wall :lol:
First qualifying session, we had to be top 6 to go to the superpole, and Kawakami san managed to get 6th ! that was already awesome and we were confident that he could improve in the superpole so we locked our driver order to the race direction (we had to tell the order of the drivers before the superpole).
Then we had the 2nd driver briefing, and a bit of time before the event, I was starting to feel bad, a lot of stress, and feeling a lot of pressure because I knew the speed of my teammates and I didn't wanted to let them down.
I sat sown and listened to a music, only one, that was making me feel more confident every time I was listening to it since the first time I had heard it (for those who want to try this is called Laurence VIP by Feint :lol:) I remember having crossed eyes with Tyrell and I think he might have been so scared by what he saw at this moment because I think it was clear I was dying inside :lol::lol:
But then I was thinking, "Well you're here, so you deserve to be here, there is no reason that you fail, just go for it and don't let your team down", and I also had strong feelings due to my personal story (but I'll keep this for me ;) )

The event started, we sat down on the #6 sofa, in front of the scene, all the way to the right, hoping that Kawakami san would get top 3 in the superpole, and then the magic happened, with Kawakami taking 2nd on the grid while Nico Rubilar was on another level, still very impressed by his lap, with all the pressure that being on stage, and doing it for a team, puts on you, that's even more impressive to be able to drive at such an amazing level.
Taking 2nd on the grid meant that our seat for the race would be the one in the middle of the front row on the stage, so everyone would watch us, and everyone would be able to see your point of view, so better be good :lol:
Race started (with a restart because of a wheel problem for one of the driver I think) and we were watching closely to our teammate's screen as well as the big screen and we immediately noticed that the BMW on pole was using mediums ! So when he overtook for 1st before the nordschleife it was awesome for us, he would be able to create a gap because everyone was stuck behind the BMW ! But then the Subaru crashed into the BMW, and that opened the race for a few manufacturers including Toyota, Porsche, Mitsubishi...

The "hunt the Lexus down" mission was set for the Toyota driver (RC_Miura / Rayan Derrouiche) who eventually passed us in the last lap of the stint, amazing drive by him.
And it was time for me to step up, when the car reached the last straiight, I went close to the seat, but a bit behind not to disturb Kawakami san in the mast turns,the car entered the pitlane, I jumped on the seat, and waited for the fuel to reach a certain level and got out of the pits.
The first braking was horrible :lol: I braked way to early and was really afraid of spinning in the first turns :lol: Then I focused on the gaps, I told myself, "Ok so anyway you will be slow, but try to be less slow than the guy behind, and a bit faster than the guy in front" I was catching up to the Toyota, and I was already thinking, "What will I do if I got an opportunity to pass on th nordschleife, do I take the risk ? And when in front, I will surely die inside and make a mistake" :lol: But then he made a mistake, and I passed in a close gap, but I passed, I was leading the most important race in my life, I was paralyzed, and I'm not afraid to say it, it was so much pressure, I again focused on the gaps, noticed that the Toyota got passed by the Porsche, that was catching up quickly, I was hoping to stay in front until the nordschleife, but he caught me just before and I decided not to fight to loose less time, but then I was quite slow, to be honest I am still quite angry of my driving because I think I could have easily be faster on my stint.
At this moment, I was trying to analyse the situation, the Porsche must be on mediums, and I saw they used softs in the first stint, so we will be able to catch 12s in the last stint, so I just have to give the car to Tyrell with less than 12s gap between me and the Porsche and then I'm confident he will catch up ! I managed to enter the pit with 5.6s gap, that went up to 9.5s because of the fuel strategy, but it was it, we had what we needed to win it all !
It was so stressful to watch the last lap, because even if you know that your teammate is unlikely to make a mistake, everything can still happen, what if there is a blue screen error ? :lol:
And then he cross the line, we jump on him, a lot of people come to congrats us, I got lifted in the air by Jomas, suddenly you have to go for the interview with Julia, then for the podium ceremony, honestly at this moment you don't believe it, you don't know where you are anymore, everything seems like a dream, but it's not, it's real ! I don't have words to describe the feeling I had at this moment, and you don't even have the time to realise, you are being asked by everyone for interviews, photos... And then when you start realizing, you feel so great again, I watched the replay of the race when I was alone in my room :lol:
Then you wake up in the morning and every people that you come to say hello congrats you again, it's like it will never stop :lol:

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On Sunday evening, last race, everyone looking at Fraga to see if he is able to catch up and win it all, I was looking at the race with Tyrell and analyzing the timing screen, we immediately realized that he was going to win with his strategy, and in the end he was crowned Nations cup champion (you guys have to understand that he is an alien above the aliens really :lol:) I can imagine what he felt when on the podium to receive his trophy ;)

Then party on Sunday night, when Yamauchi san starts dancing next to you playing with the new content in advance, funniest moment of the night :lol:

Was really hard to leave everyone, but I knew that it wouldn't be so long until I met again my teammates, Igor and the Gran Turismo staff, so I could relax, and wait for the next step; the FIA Prize giving in Saint-Petersburg ;)

III Saint-Petersburg FIA Prize-giving

December the 6th, time to take off, going to Russia for the FIA Prize giving on the 7th

I arrived at the airport with Igor, because his flight had been delayed, quite funny to see famous drivers in the same plane as you between Frankfurt and St-Petersburg :lol:
So we landed in Russia in the evening, first impressions when going from the airport to the hotel: this city looks awesome :eek: and the Christmas lights are everywhere, adding to the beauty of it, only bad thing is that all the cars are dirty :lol: (maybe because of the snow that gets dirty on the road and then goes on the cars).
We arrived at the hotel, met the GT sport team, and had diner together in front of a big Christmas tree in the hotel (dining at the same table as the Gran Turismo team was something quite awesome already)

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So first night in Russia, hotel room looks amazing, ancient style but in the hotel it was a mix of modern and old architecture, very good looking

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Then on Friday morning we had a sightseeing tour of the city with a guide, took some pictures of it, was very interesting and so nice to see all the important places of the city (plus Igor freezing everytime we were coming out of the car was very funny :lol: #BrazilianProblems)

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Then we took some rest before the ceremony, change clothes, and we were ready for it ! the most important and prestigious night of the year for motorsport, and we were here, to receive an other trophy :eek:

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So we went to the gala (that was only 200m from the hotel), jumped out of the car in front of everyone taking pictures feeling quite like "what do we have to do now" and then Igor took over for the interview, answering the questions, what a professional already :lol:
The room was huge, but we didn't saw how huge it was until we were on stage, little funny thing, when we were backstage before entering on stage, the guy told us how we would be placed on the stage, and the trophies have names on them, so we get the right one, given by a determined guy to us, but when we entered, the guy on stage misplaced us so we had to act normal with the trophy givers telling us that something must have changed and not giving us the right one but we changed backstage to have our trophy with the right name on it :lol::lol: (Oh and yeah Kimi was drunk as hell :lol::lol:).
Being on that stage was very emotional, feeling that you are receiving maybe the most prestigious trophy for a motorsport driver, and we all had a thought for all of the Gran Turismo community, because we were representing all of us, and we hope that it will grow bigger and become more and more recognized in the future

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(I upload this one to show the attractive power of Guido and Matthias, who sat randomly at a table and get all these girls to come and take the pictures with us :lol:)

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Then after the ceremony we went to a nightclub, leaving only in the morning, and, surprise, when I turned the phone on, looking at whatsapp, a message saying that we had been invited to the end of the year party in Tokyo at Polyphony Digital studios :eek: I again can't describe the feeling, as I always wanted to go to Japan (and I think I will go again as soon as I can, this is honestly the best place in the world), but it wasn't all, as when we went down to eat, Tom (who, for those not knowing, is the man behind a lot of organisation in the events, very cool guy, awesome work, thank you again Tom if you come to read this) simply asked us "How much time do you want to stay in Tokyo ?" :eek: so we said we had no idea :lol: and it ended up by deciding we would stay from the 26th to the the 31st of december, to be able to visit the city after the party :cheers:.
Then we had to go back home unfortunately, but knowing we would meet again in less than a month, and in a place we all dreamed to go.

That was the Russian trip, now time for the Tokyo one ;)

IV Tokyo

25th of December, you guys were probably still celebrating Christmas with your family, well I had to take a plane for a 12h flight from Paris to Tokyo :lol:

Landed on the 26th evening, took a bus to the hotel, and I was there, the city I've dreamed of going to ;)
So on the 27th morning, with Igor and Tyrell, we went to the Tokyo tower, to get a feel of the size of the city, well you don't see the end of it even from the last floor of the tower :lol: then we went to Shibuya, the part of the city with the famous crossing seen in Tokyo Drift, and surprisingly the road looked tighter in real life but there was an enormous amount of people every time the lights were green to cross :lol:
So we walked down the streets and the shops, you can really find anything that you want here, that's quite impressive, we ate in a little restaurant, with Igor telling us more about Japanese traditions, and then we headed back to the hotel, we managed to find our way in the Tokyo metro, which is quite an achievement the first time, but then when you understand how it works it's quite easy to move from a place to another in the city

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Then on the evening we went to the party at the studios, we had little guided tour of it by Translator san and we saw a lot of amazing things in there ;)
We also met a Lexus representative, and had a party cake with our names on it, but the best part of the night was when we all played together in fun races with some very fast guys, including real life super GT drivers, the balance of performance team from Polyphony, and other employees, that was an awesome moment :lol:

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We left the studios in the morning, so we waited for the breakfast in the hotel, and then went to take some rest, honestly this might be the week where I slept the less in my life :lol: (I apologize for not going to the party we were offered to go on the 29th in a Tokyo nightclub, but we were dying and in need of sleep too much :lol:)

Then on the 28th we woke up before 12, and got picked up by Nakata san who took us for a tour of the expressway, that was awesome to see in real life some parts that we are racing on in the game, we also did an entire lap of the Tokyo R246 track :eek:

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We saw the pit entry/exit of the the new Tokyo layouts, and a night that parking (indeed the pitlane :lol:) fills up with nice cars before they go running on the expressway :lol:

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In the afternoon we went to Akihabara, a part of the city that is famous for the electronic stuff, we went to a lot of shops, and played some arcade games until the evening before going back to the hotel :lol:

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And then at night Nakata san came back to pick us up at the hotel to take us to Daikoku parking (which is in the game's scapes mode) to make us the car meet and WOW that was amazing :bowdown: all those different cars put together in the same place (before going for expressway runs of course but shhhh :lol: I've heard them going from 2 to 6 am 3 nights in a row from the hotel room :lol:)
That was amazing I couldn't be more happy I took some pictures to show you guys, but the feeling when you are there is so awesome :eek:

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And these are from another parking lot ;)

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What an evening it was :lol:

Then on the 29th we went back to Shibuya with Tyrell to visit what didn't had time to visit the first time, trying to buy some stuff to bring home :lol:

On the 30th, we went for walk (we wanted to go to the public parks but everything was closed due to new years celebration approaching) so we just walked around the city, we got stopped by a guy that wanted a picture with us because we had our GT red jackets on :lol:, it's amazing how some places are calm compared to some others, you won't believe your are in a 13 millions inhabitants city some time ;)

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So that was it, the trip was coming to an end, and the 31st was time to go back to the airport, quite a heartbreak, but I will surely come back to visit more of Japan, this place is so amazing

Hope you guys enjoyed reading ;) I'll just write a little conclusion to all of it and it will be done :)

V Conclusion

To conclude, I would like to thank everyone to took part in this amazing experience, I also want to thank every driver that was in Monaco, because you guys were all so cool you made the experience even more amazing, my teammates, best guys in the world. To all the Gran Turismo team, a MASSIVE thank you, I'll never be able to say how much I am grateful to everyone at Polyphony Digital, thanks to everyone that made all of this possible, and hopefully these events will continue to be held throughout the coming years.
The last months of 2018 were probably the best months I have ever had in my life, thanks to everyone involved in GT since more than 20 years, massive thank you to Yamauchi san, and all the people that were with us in Russia and Tokyo, hope we can meet again soon ;)

I hope that everyone that takes the time to read this enjoyed reading, and if you want to ask anything to me feel free to comment ;)
 
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France
France
I hope I have time to write chapter 2 tonight, it might take some time as there are a lot of things to say about Monaco ;)