After 7 races, we go to France, Le Mans, for season Finale. 3-titles on the line, 1.5x points in offer in this 1h long race.
Drivers need to find balance with setup, fast in straight, stable on corners. We have seen winners in cars that were stop speed-monsters or gained all their time on corners end of the lap. All drivers have taken part in Le Mans in the past, so no rookies this season.
Championship Leaders need to keep car on the road, dont allow challengers to get close in points. Small mistake could destoy 8 weeks of hard work.
TSR_JoeToGuy won Gr2-title last season, and made jump to Nissan to try win his 3rd title, and defend his title. Season started perfect in Round 1. He took pole position and slowly opened up gap, winning in the end quite easily. Third place in Sardegna was followed by very impressive second place in Spa, with car that was much heavier than his rivals due ballast. He was only 5th in Red Bull Ring, but in Interlagos he enjoyed car that had way less ballast, taking another pole-to-flag win, extending his championship lead. Race in Blue Moon Bay proved to be very dramatic in Gr2, but TSR_JoeToGuy avoided major drama, and could take unlikely second place. In Autopolis he continued his trend of overperforming with very ballast-heavy car, and got most out of his tires, taking yet another second place. This has left him with very healthy championship lead after 7 races: ''The season has gone well for me. I think I've performed better than last season and I prefer the Nissan over the NSX, which has helped''. Championship is not yet over though, his rivals have still tiny chance to beat him, so TSR_JoeToGuy needs to be sharp in Le Mans Finale, take every position he can: ''For Le Mans I think I can take a podium on pace which should be enough to secure the championship. With lighter cars like Luki and Nils ahead, Bottle will ha be a hard time getting the points he needs from a top finish''. He has history of performing well with heavier car, even in Le Mans. And if he was to win the title again, it would be his 3rd in a row, becoming only 2nd driver ever to archive such milestone. He could also become 3rd driver to defend his title successfully.
NWR_Bottlejob made jump to Gr2 after up-and-down season in Gr3, with spot opening in Lexus. There were some rumours that he could be quite handy in Gr2-cars, and he set his aim start of the season, shock everybody as black horse this season. Aready in Nurburgring he out performed some big names and took second place to start the season. He would struggle in Sardegna, missing podium spot, but got it all right in Spa following weekend. He took lead start of the race, and built big enough gap to stay in the lead until the end, winning his first GT-MES race. Awful race in Red Bull Ring left him only 6th, but was again fast in Interlagos, running second only to be overtaken by teammate NWR_Spookyluki on final couple laps. After painfull race in Blue Moon Bay, pressure was on in Autopolis to win and keep title hopes alive. And he did just that, pole position allowed him to be in the lead from start and he controlled the race perfectly, winning his second race of the season: ''This seasons been great, I don't think anyone including myself would've expected me to be 2nd going into Le Mans with 2 wins, multiple podiums and able to challenge Joe for the title''. He has been best of the rest all season, and with only Le Mans Finale to go, he is only driver with realistic chance to steal the title. But he needs to do something he is yet to do this season: Get back to back podiums. To be champion you need to be able to get results with heavy car, and this is the time he needs to do it. He needs minimum third place and fastest lap, and it wont be easy task: ''Not sure how well I'll do at Le Mans, Joe's shown he's more than capable of overcoming ballast in previous rounds so it'll be difficult to be in a position to win the championship. Add on Sota and Luki on low ballasts themselves and all the odds are stacked against me but never the less, I'll stand up and do my best to fight against them''.
TSR_Tomsoft won Gr3-title last season, and made jump to Gr2 in Nissan. He started season as one of the favorites, and it has been very hard at times for the German. Round 1 he made his way to third place after difficult quali and start, Sardegna was difficult and was capped off with major crash. Spa he was held back due grid penalty, managing to get another third place but more was in offer. Red Bull Ring he could only manage 4th place, and season was starting to look really clowdy with technical issues and under performing results. Interlagos was going to be place he would turn things around, he did test laps after laps. Qualifying was disapointment again, and then technical issue did not allow him to start the race. With his hopes of title almost over, he went to Blue Moon Bay with no pressure. It worked, first pole was rewarded in the end with first win of the season. Next was Autopolis, ballast kept him away from fight for win and teammate again beat him, but he was able to get another 3rd place. He has still mathematical chance to win title, but it has been season of struggle: ''I think overall it is a bit sad to see the Season to go like that, it's obviously different to switch from Gr.3 to Gr.2 which I've barely driven in the months before Season 14. I kind of expected that it would take a bit to get the car going but I wasn't expecting it to go on until at least round 5 or 6. Nonetheless it was a very fun season, quite stressful as I thought I was on the lowest point of my GTS career after Round 4, but I was pleased to win in Round 6''- said NWR_Bottlejob about his season. While he has tiny chance to win title, it is very unrealistic. He would need to win Le Mans with heavy car, and his past results here been awfull. Instead he will go race with no pressure of title: ''With the given ballast and me usually struggling with top end speed setups I don't see a much needed P1 coming, it's going to be interesting to see what the car can be capable of here. Haven't had a lot of issues so far in Le Mans, but anything is possible from what I've seen in the past. P3 would be nice, anything to end up 2nd or 3rd in the championship would be great''.
Out of the title fight for first time in very long while, sota59 is coming in with no pressure after hard season. Rejoining Honda to find magic of the past, Round 1 was adjustment, struggling to find consistancy, finishing 5th. Sardgena he started out of position, but managed to pass cars and get solid second place to kick start the season. Pole in Spa was promising, but in race he struggled and fell out of the podium. Red Bull Ring he was only beaten by cars lighter than him, taking 3rd place. Interlagos he had again hard time finding speed others had, and was 5th. Blue Moon Bay was his place to stike and win finaly, he was running second right behind leader, but slipped up and was lucky to get third place. After struggling in Autopolis and again finishing 5th, he comes to Le Mans with no pressure. sota59 has this to say about his season: ''I knew season would be difficult, but i was hoping to find speed from Honda, and at times lack of speed been mystery. It is clear i am not in position to fight for regular wins anymore, change is needed''
sota59 is 5-time winner in Le Mans, but previous win is from Season 8 and last season he missed podium for the first time ever. Car should be competitive as he does not have much success-ballast, but sota59 is not setting expectations: ''As it is clear that my driving style from past 13 seasons is not working anymore, i have to adjust. Le Mans is perfect place to start it, i have nothing to really fight for, and early testing been solid, so lets see. Podium would be like a win''.
NWR_Spookyluki has had interesting season. He stayed in Lexus for 4th season, record, and many were wondering if he could make title run. In Nurburgring he had solid speed, but was beaten for podium on final couple laps. Sardgena he got pole and dominated from start to finish, winning his 5th race in GT-MES. But missing Round 3 and 4 really killed his title hopes. In Interlagos he had impressive race to finish second place after late overtake on his teammate, but he needed podiums to keep coming, and instead he had hard race in Blue Moon Bay, finishing 4th and then crashed, retired from 6th place in Autopolis. But despite all this, he is overall happy about the season, especially for his team: ''This season has been my favourite so far, the level of skill from the drivers has just been absolutely fantastic, and it's been my best season results wise, heading into Le Mans a manufacturers title is doable''. Going in to Le Mans he has one of the lightest cars, and he is hoping to deliver first Le Mans win and Manufacturers-title for Lexus, but says pressure is high: ''Ahead of this final I am feeling quite a bit of pressure, I know I'm able to get a win in manufacturers and that pressure to do so is very much noticeable. Hoping a win or a second place will be doable and have a title for the team''. Le Mans win could jump him high as second in championship.
4-time champion Nils was set to jump down to Gr3 this season, but instead has been running half-season back in Honda. He came to Red Bull Ring with no ballast, and took win from pole, but races in Interlagos and Autopolis have only been good enough for pair of 4th places. ''Since this was only a part-time season for me, I don't need to care about what the standings are saying - It still has been a great season for me and the main reason for that is Round 4 at the Red Bull Ring and my first ever victory there. The other races still had some nice battles, but round 4 is going to be the thing I'll remember most from this season - I really didn't expect to win anything this season, yet still it happened!'' - said Nils. He is going to Le Mans with no pressure of titles, and is one of the biggest favorites after winning there last season. He could tie record for 5 Le Mans wins: ''I'm hoping for a nice and clean final race of the season and maybe top 3 in the end. It's a track I enjoy racing on, so I'm looking forward to it!''.
After 2 seasons in Porsche, de-luck4 made surprising move to Supra this season. And despite reports that he has found lot of speed pre-season, his performances this season have shocked everybody. Known as hardest worker in GT-MES, always trying to improve himself and car, he has had new setup almost every weekend, despite saying early in the season he would not have much time to test. Round 1 he took solid 4th place, but Round 2 he shocked everybody by taking pole and dominating his way to his 3rd ever win. And maybe even bigger shock was delivered in Spa, circuit he very publicly dislikes. He had lot of ballast, thing that has been his biggest challenge before, but that did not stop him, he battled hard and smart tactics allowed him to take his second win in a row. Red Bull Ring he was 5th after grid penalty, but again in Interlagos he surprised many by getting 3rd place with heavy car. Blue Moon Bay he again fought for win for last couple laps, ending with second place but again increasing his championship lead. And then in Autopolis he delivered his most impressive performance, by winning on circuit that should not suit Supra. And he won by huge margin. After 7 races he has won 3 races, couple podiums in his pocket and nice championship lead. This success has not only been surprise for many, but also himself: ''Season went better than expected. My car choice was right and was really lucky to make it stabile. Standings is real wtf moment. Still not sure how i got there, consider how strong Gr3 grid is''. He has very good championship lead, but he cant rely on that. He needs to have good race in Le Mans, Supra dominated here last season. But Supra has had its BoP adjusted, de-luck4 has plenty of successballast and he has been awfull around Le Mans every season. He needs to change that: ''For Le Mans, looking for hard race. Knowing my bad luck in earlier races here, my focus will be to make clean race. Extra balast kills all my pace, so not much i can do about it''.
RTA_SAFFA returned to GT-MES, looking to finally win his first title. South African joined highly successful Subaru, and has learned to love the car. Round 1 started with bang, smart strategy allowed him to take lead and win in his return. Hard races in Sardegna and Spa left him 5th and 6th, and missing race in Red Bull Ring left people think that his title-challenge was over before it began. Great result was needed in Interlagos, and he got job done, second place. But biggest story of his season has been Blue Moon Bay, he was sick and set to miss the race, but decided in the end to take part. Track should not have suited the car, but he took shock pole and then late in the race made move to win the race. Second place from Autopolis after smart call in pits has allowed him to be in striking distance in Le Mans Finale. '' The season has been really fun! I am really happy with all the races even those where I dropped a lot of points. Been very nice to compete in GT MES once again and has quickly made the Subaru one of my favorites on the game'' said RTA_SAFFA about his season. But biggest challenge off the season is this weekend, Le Mans. Subaru really struggled there last season and RTA_SAFFA has lot of ballast compered to others. Getting points to win title seems unlikely: '' I am feeling ok. I have managed to tweak the setup to last enough laps to be somewhat in it but my ballast and lack of top speed is really going to hurt. Going to need an absolute miracle to finally win my first ever GT MES title but you never know!''
Biggest favorite coming to season was TSR_Swablu. He could be almost considered as rookie, for only having 1 race before this season under his belt. He joined new Manufacturer, Jaguar and lot was expected from both. Round 1 he got pole, but dropped the ball and was jumped on pits, finishing second place. Round 2 in Sardegna he was looking for another podium, but crash and error in pits left him disqualified. Spa he was fighting for win and podium all race, but just missed out, finishing 4th. Race in Red Bull Ring was now or never for him, and he delivered, winning after taking pole. His first win in GT-MES gave him confidence, and was aiming for another podium next weekend in Interlagos, but another mistake in pits left him only 8th. He was struggling to find speed in Blue Moon Bay, but great quali-alp due slipstream helped him, and he kept it clean in race, taking third place. Autopolis he needed good result to close in on points, and he took pole position. But race pace was not there and he slided down to third. Critically he is still in championship fight, even though he needs miracle to pull it off. ''Before the season started i already heard lots of positives regarding the series and its management and i have to say i am impressed with the standard of racing. Im happy that the league has been a big challenge for me to compete in and im happy with the season so far. Regarding the final, i know what i have to do and im going to do my very best to try and over drive the car and push every ounce of performance i can out of it to try and win. But whatever happens on Saturday, i am pleased with my season and the battles ive had. Win or lose, I'll be fighting'' - said TSR_Swablu. He has less ballast than his two title rivals, and Jaguar is strong in Le Mans according to rumours, but he needs to deliver win to have any chance of winning title. Lets see if he can pull it off.
y_bearr_ had couple title disapointments and unconsistant seasons before, but came with no pressure this season. He stayed with Porsche for record 4th straight season, still looking to improve. He started season well, third place from Nurburgring and then he repeated that in Sardegna. 5th and 6th places from Spa and Red Bull Ring were reality check with heavy car, but in Interlagos he took poleposition and win, lighting up his title hopes. But 4th place in Blue Moon Bay and 5th in Autopolis were not enough for him to join title battle in Le Mans. Overall still it has been great season for him, far more consistant than last season when he was second going in to Le Mans: ''It's been a good season for me, had a great battles with the front runners. It was the best GT mes season for me. The driver line up was really good. And deluck has been very fast from the beginning of the season, that was really surprising for me''. Season 11 and 12 he was one of the fastest if not fastest driver in Le Mans with Porsche, but last season really struggled: ''Last season finale I was granted with 3% of success ballast and I almost finished at the most back of the field. Now I drive with 5% success ballast, so it's almost impossible to battle with the front runner but we will see, I hope RSS tyre will help me during the race''.
RLH_Wesley99 returned to GT-MES this season, and with joining Subaru he was one of the pre-season favorites. But it has been struggle with times lack of pace, or then lack of luck. Season started in Nurburgring with 5th place, while his teammate was able to win. Then Sardgena were he was hoping to get podium, he failed to start the race. 3rd place in Spa was kick start to season and then last to third in Red Bull Ring. But 5th place in Interlagos and then another technical issue in Blue Moon Bay ended his title hopes. Autopolis he just missed podium and finished 4th: ''Season has not being going as I would have liked. I wasn't able to find the pace in the Subaru to fight for the championship''. RLH_Wesley99 is one of very few drivers to be able to win in Le Mans twice, and he did it both times on high downforce, low top speed car. But Subaru seems harder to figure out here: ''I am hoping to end the season on a high, but witht the lack of top speed on the Subaru it will be a difficult race in Le Mans. But we hope to be in for the fight for the podium''.
GTO250GTO has had mixed season. While his teammate has been at times very dominant, German has struggled. Season started with pair of 7th places in Round 1 and 2, but in Spa he got pole position. He would eventually just miss out on win to his teammate after hectic race, but was really positive after hard start to the season. In Red Bull Ring he started from back due technical issues, but was able to race his way to another second place. After that, he struggled again. In Interlagos, his favorite track he was only 7th due all success ballast and then again only 7th and 8th in Blue Moon Bay and Autopolis: ''2 good races, 3 races where I could have done better and 2 of the worst races I have ever done. So kind of a mixed bag''. Going in to Le Mans he has no ballast, and he won his first ever GT-MES race there last season. But there was ballast adjustment for Supra, and he is saying it is sure bet that he will fight for win: ''I guess people forget I had minus ballast last season and so overestimate my chances this time around. I hope I can get a result that will help out Toyota in both championships''.
thunderpigeon returned to BMW for this season, looking to improve and maybe get back to race winning form. Nurburgring he got solid 6th place and in Sardgena he has very impressive second place. But in Spa were he was expected to fight again for podium, he missed points and was 9th. After missing Red Bull Ring, he had good runs in Interlagos and Blue Moon Bay, but missed podium both times. He also missed Autopolis, and sits 7th in standings: ''I think I've had a season of missed opportunity. 2 races I could have been competitive, I was unable to make the race. And the I've made mistakes both small and large that have cost me good results. A saving grace (with some luck) was a P2 in Sardegna. Otherwise, I have not achieved the results I think I'm capable of. I think I had the car and skill to fight for 3rd-5th in the standings. I'm looking forward to next season to try again''. He has one of the lightest cars on the grid, but he is not expecting much from Le Mans: ''I don't think I will be competitive after the slow pace of the BMW at Spa. I'm going to push hard for a result in case people pick up damage or penalties''.
His long time friend doc-shipman returned to be his teammate for first time since Season 6, and as expected, it has been learning season. After 9th place in Round 1, he surprised many with 4th place in Sardegna. Since then he has rarely had bad races, but has not managed to fight for podium spots. Overall good season: ''Incredibly varied season this season for me. I was incredibly impressed with the pace of everyone from the beginning and quickly realised I'd be fighting for the last few spots. I was happy with my pace after being away for so long, but kinda hoped I'd have one or two races where I was challenging for a podium - but the battles I've had almost every single race have made up for it. Absolutely thrilling racing this season''. Le Mans is opportunity to maybe get podium on the board: ''More of the same really! I love Le Mans and it's a track I've got a lot of hours on, so I'm hoping to have a really good battle with the other drivers around me and just enjoy it. I guess one of the benefits of not being in contention on points means that the pressure is off for the finale and I can just go out and enjoy some close racing!''
amuda54 finally was able to join Porsche, after trying to make it happen couple times. He has made step up on consistancy and speed, even though results not been there. Highlight of his season is 4th place from Red Bull Ring, and he sits 9th in points: ''Overall, I’ve been pretty disappointed with how my season went. I was expecting many more podiums and top 5s but that hasn’t been the case''. Le Mans is his favorite circuit, and his only podium have come from Le Mans, so expectations are high this weekend: ''Le Mans is a track I know well, and my car is fast and handles the way I like. I think I should be a contender for the win here, so I’m going to give it everything to get a good result in an otherwise forgettable season''.
His 3rd title, first title defence!
Almost perfect season again for him, 2 wins, 7 times on podium.
Always performing with heaviest car on the grid. Well deserved.
Gr3 champion on Season 14 is......
He told us he found lot more pace on Supra than 911 before the season, but nobody saw him challenge for wins almost every weekend. 3 wins, several podiums.
Hated Spa, won there with heavy car.
Supra awfull in Autopolis, dominated there.
Hates Le Mans, gets podium.
Some say it is the car, but deluck4 been doing 3x more practice laps than anybody last 4 seasons, he found setup and speed nobody else saw coming. He had perfect preparation every race. Deserved 110%
Manufacturer champion for Season 14 is......
4 wins, 7 times on podium, perfect driver line-up, Le Mans win! Well deserved!
This weekend in Sydney, Australia, there is major meeting to discuss future of GT-MES.
Expected to attend are Ola Källenius, Robert Watherston, Hisatake Murata, Dave Wilson, Tomomi Nakamura, Fritz Enzinger, Julius Seebach, Jim Farley and Luca de Meo.
Topics rumoured to be Toyota's future in GT-MES, technical rules for next few seasons, some sporting regulation changes and next seasons calendar. Toyota took sensational double titles, Gr3-drivers title and its first Manufactures-title.
There has been deep discussions if Supra can continue in the series, and it it will, how big change to its BoP Toyota are willing to accept.
GT-MES and Japanese Promoters sign new long term deal to keep series in Japan for future seasons.
GT-MES has visited in Japan every season, twice in Season 1 and 2.
There is currently 6 Japanese Manufacturers in GT-MES, including Honda with record 64 wins and 8 titles.
Autopolis had its 2 year deal end, and it is not expected to get extention. It has suffered from lack of overtaking, and has been unpopular between drivers. It hosted 100th GT-MES race in Season 13.
Fuji Speedway is rumoured to return to calendar, for first time since Season 10.