With the final races of the 2021 Exhibition Series in the Gran Turismo Online Championship set to take place in around 24 hours, the announcement of a start date for the 2022 championship has caused something of a stir.
On the face of it, the announcement itself is short and sweet. However, both the timing and the wording of the nine-word sentence poses a lot of questions that Gran Turismo fans have been asking on the GTPlanet forums.
The official post states that “the next online championship will start on February 2”, with an additional note that the schedule for this will appear at a later date and to enjoy Daily Races in the meantime.
That start date is intriguing all by itself. For those of you keeping up with the world of Gran Turismo, the first quarter of 2022 will be an exciting time as the next game in the series — Gran Turismo 7 — will launch on March 4.
We’ve been expecting that the official online championship will transition to the new game when it launches in 2022, but of course this February start date means that at least the next Exhibition Series will continue on Gran Turismo Sport. That may have implications when it comes to qualification for any of the major events dotted through the year.
It also means that Gran Turismo 7 will almost certainly not host any Online Championship races for at least its first month on sale.
The shortest Exhibition or Pre-Season event we’ve seen so far was in 2018, with six races in each series across 17 days — but that used an older format. An eight-race event using the current format starting February 2 would last through to March 27 at the earliest, and with a short break between seasons we’d be in April before GT7 got its turn. Assuming online ranks don’t carry from game to game, that would at least allow for players to rank up in the meantime.
A more concerning issue is what the post doesn’t say: it does not include the name of the FIA.
Up until now, all announcements of forthcoming seasons — whether official competition, Exhibition, or pre- or post-season racing — have stated “FIA Gran Turismo Championships”, but this one does not.
That actually tallies with the fact that the FIA’s name and branding has been all but absent from GT7 promotional material; the organization hasn’t actually been mentioned at all in connection to GT7 and indeed even the logo itself has only appeared twice that we can see in all of the content posted since June 2020, buried in the background. The launch date reveal in September 2021 even sported a new World Finals logo without the FIA’s name on it.
Of course with big-name sponsors like Brembo, Michelin, BBS Japan, and Toyota and Mazda all on board, the competition itself is not under any threat, but it remains to be seen if it retains its official FIA competition standing for 2022.
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