The FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championships’ World Series 3 event saw two tightly contested races among the top three in each, and some strong performances from newcomers, but championship status quo remaining.
It was Manufacturer Series first up, and a close qualifying session which saw all 11 cars which set a valid time covered by less than 0.8s. A relatively familiar front row saw Porsches’s Jose Serrano edge out the Toyota of Igor Fraga, but behind them came two drivers who made their FIAGTC debuts in last month’s Showdown, with Yuki Araki putting his Dodge Viper third ahead of Quinten Jehoul in the Peugeot RCZ.
With a single tire grade available, but a mandatory pit stop, the race was steady to start with as the drivers warmed up the hard rubber.
However, after a relatively disappointing qualifying, the race was just about over as soon as it started for points-leader Mazda, with an uncharacteristic mistake from Ryota Kokubun. The Japanese driver dipped a wheel over the gravel leaving turn four and got pulled deeper in to drop to the back of the field.
Out front the lead five cars had staged a little breakaway as Baptiste Beauvois (Mercedes) and Alonso Regalado (Aston Martin) squabbled over sixth. That was a battle that would last throughout the race and attract more than a little attention from the stewards.
Fraga — who had been passed by Araki a lap earlier — was the first to pit for fresh tires at the end of lap eight, with Jehoul and Takuma Miyazono (Subaru) joining him and hoping for the undercut. Serrano was next, a lap later and, despite the best efforts of the chasing trio, he re-emerged at the head of the pack.
That just left Araki, who took his stop at half distance and it briefly appeared as it his tactic had worked. However that prompted one of the most frantic portions of the race.
As Araki left the pit lane, Fraga swept past Serrano into the on-track lead. That left Fraga caught up behind the Dodge on cold tires, and Serrano was able to pass both through turn three to take the lead, with Jehoul following the Porsche through past Fraga’s Supra.
Worse was to follow for Fraga, as a half-second track limits penalty dropped him behind Miyazono, then Beauvois outmuscled him through turn four — which also allowed Regalado through.
Despite Araki’s best efforts at using the Viper’s grunt up the hill into turn three, there was no way past Serrano’s Porsche, and indeed eventually that left the door open for Jehoul to retake second on the final lap.
The result meant none of the championship’s top three registered a point, with Miyazono closest in fourth for Subaru. Peugeot now moves into joint second on 10 points with Toyota thanks to two points here, with both brands a point behind Mazda. Porsche’s second win this season still only has the brand in seventh, on six points, while Dodge moves into 10th on three points.
World Series Points Standings (Manufacturers)
- Mazda – 11 points
- Toyota – 10 points
- Peugeot – 10 points
- Subaru – 9 points
- Volkswagen – 7 points
- Jaguar – 6 points
- Porsche – 6 points
- Aston Martin – 4 points
- Mercedes – 4 points
- Dodge – 3 points
- Honda – 3 points
The Nations Cup race saw an even tighter qualifying session, with the entire grid covered by under half a second. It was Jehoul on pole though, ahead of the experienced quartet of Valerio Gallo, Serrano, Miyazono and Fraga, with another Showdown newcomer Andrew Lee taking sixth.
All of the top six bar Fraga opted for the soft tire and the five soft runners quickly established themselves as a front five — though Lee did begin to fall away was the stint progressed.
It was Adriano Carrazza’s turn to take an early bath, as the Brazilian had a poor start which saw him drop four places in the first two turns. He then made a rather odd choice to pit on lap one for new soft tires – perhaps hoping to make up ground to the rest of the field on mediums. Carrazza was quicker, but not be nearly enough by the the time he had to pit again.
Miyazono and Lee were the first of the lead five to pit onto mediums, but it made little difference as Jehoul, Gallo, and Serrano came in and out a lap later to resume their podium positions.
However, after leading for the majority of the race, the Belgian newcomer was soon in strife. With six laps remaining Jehoul caught the edge of the track braking into turn one and slid, allowing Gallo up into the lead. On the penultimate lap it was the same error but at the start of the straight, catching the outfield leaving the final turn and letting Serrano stream right past.
It very nearly became three places lost, as the same mistake on the last lap of the race brought Miyazono right up onto his rear quarter, but Jehoul kept the place by just 0.08s at the line.
That gave Gallo the three points, with Serrano scoring two and Jehoul one. However Gallo now stretches his championship lead from two to five points after Kokubun again failed to score. An apparent lag induced contact in the closing stages sent the Japanese driver off into the desert to finish last on an event to forget.
World Series Points Standings (Nations)
- Valerio Gallo (Italy) – 15 points
- Ryota Kokubun (Japan) – 10 points
- Jose Serrano (Spain) – 10 points
- Coque Lopez (Spain) – 8 points
- Igor Fraga (Brazil) – 7 points
- Angel Inostroza (Chile) – 5 points
- Patrik Blazsan (Hungary) – 5 points
- Takuma Miyazono (Japan) – 4 points
- Adam Tapai (Hungary) – 3 points
- Nikita Moysov (Czechia) – 2 points
- Tomoaki Yamanaka (Japan) – 2 points
- Quinten Jehoul (Belgium) – 1 point
- Adriano Carrazza (Brazil) – 1 point
- Baptiste Beauvois (France) – 1 point
There’ll be one more opportunity for drivers to score World Series points for themselves and for their brands coming up with World Series 4 next month.
They’ll each carry those points into December’s World Final, with more on the table for those races, and the driver or marque with the most points come the checkered flag will become 2021 champion.
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