Takuma Miyazono, Coque Lopez, and Angel Inostroza won their Nations Cup Regional Finals events at the GT World Final, but it’s Igor Fraga who still holds a slender points lead going into Sunday’s Grand Final.
With 30 finalists on-site for the live final in Monaco, the field needed to be whittled down a little in order to create the 12-car grid for the Grand Final. That meant splitting the drivers into even groups of ten, divided by region, for Regional Finals.
The top three in each race would head into Sunday’s final — earning six, five, and four points for their positions — with three more spots available from a last-chance Repechage for the drivers from fourth to seventh.
General qualifying saw the drivers hitting Willow Springs in the Escudo Pikes Peak, setting the grids for each of the three regional finals, with Takuma Miyazono topping the overall time sheets with a scary 1:01.0 lap — two-tenths clear of any other driver. Thomas Labouteley would claim the EMEA pole position, with Angel Inostroza top of the Americas bloc.
Asia-Oceania was up first with a tricky-looking race at the Watkins Glen circuit in the classic Ferrari 330 P4 Le Mans car, and Miyazono seemed keen to stamp his authority over the race. Although all four of the front cars started on the soft tire option, Miyazono pulled out a handy gap to the chasing Seiya Suzuki — who’d lose out to Tomoaki Yamanaka soon after.
The twitchy Ferrari was claiming victims too. Guy Barbara may have fallen out of contention almost immediately with a ferocious tank-slapper that pitched him into the barriers, but he was just the first of many. Jonathan Wong also experienced the Ferrari’s wrath, heading into the bus stop chicane pointing very much the wrong way.
With the switch to medium tires for the front-runners, Ryota Kokubun soon came back into contention as the lone soft-shod Japanese driver. After despatching Kanata Kawakami, he set off after Suzuki and that set up an entertaining battle between the two for the final three laps. Kokubun did eventually get past and make it stick, taking the final qualifying spot behind the unrivaled Miyazono and Yamanaka.
The European drivers were up next in the equally challenging Lamborghini Vision GT — a car revealed at the last live Monaco World Final — at Monza, and it was defending champion Valerio Gallo on the move from the off.
Starting third, Gallo was in the lead by the second chicane, running the over-under on Coque Lopez and slingshotting past Labouteley who’d run too deep into the Rettifilo and slowed himself up.
Lopez though would grab the lead back with a move that looked like it would be a plane crash. The Lamborghini is fast but tough to stop, and he seemed caught out by Gallo’s braking point into Rettifilo. However the Italian saw it coming and stayed left, while Lopez remarkably got the car stopped bang on the apex and took the lead.
They’d run together to build an unassailable lead, but further back it was blue-on-blue-on-blue action. Now on the medium tire, Labouteley was slipping back into the clutches of Baptiste Beauvois and Kylian Drumont. Drumont seemed happy to bid his time but, following a slide and corner-cut penalty, Beauvois was on a mission.
Beauvois caught Drumont napping in the Parabolica and took third from Labouteley down the straight. Somehow, despite running out of tires with most of the last lap to go, Beauvois held on to the final qualifying spot behind race winner Lopez and his permanent shadow Gallo.
That left the Americas bloc, and it was the Angel Inostroza show. The Chilean driver took his first ever World Series Nations Cup win earlier this season, but led from lights to flag here to become the only driver to score two race wins in the 2022 calendar.
Behind him it was a race of Brazilian drivers — appropriately given the use of Ayrton Senna’s McLaren MP4/4 at Interlagos — with Igor Fraga battling through from fifth to second and within a few corners of catching Inostroza by the end of the race.
Fabian Portilla was initially behind his countryman in second, but his move on Lucas Bonelli into turn four on lap one was adjudged unfair — about which he could have had no complaints — and the small penalty served on the run up from Juncao dropped him well down the pack.
Bonelli would recover to third, with Arthur Mosso making some lovely overtakes on Dean Heldt and Adriano Carrazza in the last laps to claim a prime position in the Repechage. Martin Marza would grab the final Repechage spot after an unseen, last sector overtake on Robert Heck.
That set up the frantic Repechage in the Suzuki Escudo Pikes Peak at Willow Springs. Appropriately enough, Suzuki would be on pole, ahead of Mosso and Serrano for the 18-lap blast, but it was Carrazza making the early running as he grabbed third.
Having lost out to Kawakami in the pit stops, Carrazza came on strong at the end of the race for another explosive battle, and the Brazilian would seize the place on the penultimate lap with a forceful move that resulted in a stewards’ investigation.
However they found no cause to issue a penalty, and Carrazza would grab the final spot in the Grand Final — and provide the Viewer Campaign quiz answer — behind race-winner Suzuki and Serrano.
Current Standings (ahead of Grand Final)
- Igor Fraga – 12 points
- Angel Inostroza – 10 points
- Ryota Kokubun – 9 points
- Valerio Gallo – 9 points
- Lucas Bonelli – 8 points
- Jose Serrano – 7 points
- Baptiste Beauvois – 7 points
- Takuma Miyazono – 7 points
- Coque Lopez – 6 points
- Kylian Drumont – 6 points
- Tomoaki Yamanaka – 5 points
- Seiya Suzuki – 3 points
- Adriano Carrazza – 1 point
That sets the stage for the Grand Final on Sunday, with the points table too tight to call. Thanks to the double-points, any of the top four will take the title with a race win but it’s anybody’s title with the right set of results.
Tune in from 1600 UTC on Sunday to see not only the Grand Final but the unveiling of the Ferrari Vision GT.
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