It barely seems like three months since we were all in Monaco, watching Mikail Hizal lay waste to the best drivers in the world, but here we are.
The GT Sport World Tour starts once again this coming weekend, and it’s breaking new ground. For 2020, the World Tour is spreading its wings to not only a new country, but a new continent and indeed entirely new hemisphere, as it heads to Australia for the first time.
Sydney’s Luna Park plays host to the live event, with action taking place from Friday February 13 through to Sunday February 15. Players from around the world will assemble on the Australian East Coast to fight out both the Nations Cup and Manufacturer Series in a format we’ve come to expect.
Although Sydney will be the first event of the year, there’s plenty to watch out for — and a dozen events’ worth of history being carried into Australia’s biggest city. Here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye on over the next week.
Stepping up to the plate
There’s one huge aspect to Sydney, which we hint at in the title: neither of the previous seasons’ Nations Cup world champions are present. Hizal had always suggested that 2019 was his last chance to grab that unique trophy before having to knuckle down for his final year at college – engineering is no simple degree, especially in Germany where ‘engineer’ is as much an honorific as ‘doctor’ is elsewhere. 2018’s champ Igor Fraga will be busy at Manfield Circuit Chris Amon trying to win the 2020 Toyota Racing Series title.
In fact the only driver competing in Sydney to have previously won a non-exhibition World Tour is Nicolas Rubilar, as back-to-back Tokyo champion Ryota Kokubun is also absent. The Chilean won the curtain-raiser in Paris 11 months ago, and will no doubt fancy his chances again.
Two other previous World Tour winners will be racing too. Giorgio Mangano won the first ever World Tour event at the Nurburgring in May 2018, and the Italian has reached the final of eight of his nine World Tours. Equally capable is Hungary’s Patrik Blaszan who’s been to ten events and won in Salzburg in September 2018. He ended a mid-season slump in 2019 with a third place in the final race in Monaco, good enough for fifth overall.
However there’s two other drivers who will be pre-event favorites. Australia’s Cody Latkovski and Japan’s Takuma Miyazono — second and third respectively in Monaco and pictured above — are the highest ranked drivers yet to win a World Tour event. They also have more-or-less home advantage due to time zones. Drivers from Europe and the Americas will have to deal with jet lag neither the Australian nor Japanese drivers will be as badly affected — though in Latkovski’s case that depends on which continent he’s been in for the previous week.
Yamauchi reveals the 2020 roadmap
It’s typical for a World Tour to reveal some information about future events, and as the first one of the season Sydney should lay out the calendar for 2020. There’s some time set aside in the schedule on Friday for a presentation by the Polyphony Digital studio boss, but as yet it’s not slated for a live stream. GTPlanet is on the ground however, and we’ll bring you any information revealed during the talk.
As with Paris in 2019, we’d expect dates and venues for almost all of the 2020 season. That may include the final, however that was mostly kept under wraps last year so this may stay quiet until later in the year.
In addition there’s more to come on the Mazda partnership for 2020. It is worth noting that the Mazda brand is not part of the Manufacturer Series races in Sydney though — indeed it’s never been at a competitive World Tour event — so this too may arrive at a later date.
More new content coming?
Polyphony Digital has got into the habit of revealing new car and track content, along with new features, at World Tour events, and we’d expect Sydney to be no different. January 2020 passed with no additions to GT Sport — which is not unprecedented, but unusual — so fans are eager to see what might be in the works for February.
The official schedule does reveal a “TBA” gap in the race structure, and that’s usually a solid indicator of either a one-make race in a brand-new car, or an entirely new circuit. We do know of a handful of cars that are yet to arrive — the Mazda RX-Vision GT3 mentioned above, a Porsche Vision GT, the Lamborghini Vision GT, and the SEMA Award-winning Civic — so it could be that one or some of these will appear, or something else entirely.
As for tracks, we’ve heard rumblings of a variety of different circuits in the lead-up to previous events, some of which are yet to be fulfilled. That was the case with Spa-Francorchamps before its surprising reveal in New York. Whether one of these earlier rumors come true or not is something we’ll not likely know until Friday.
How to Watch
Gran Turismo’s official YouTube channel will live-stream all of the events from the Sydney World Tour. GTPlanet will also be on the ground in Sydney, so stay tuned for more exclusive coverage and behind-the-scenes action on our Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Instagram. For now, here’s the official live stream schedule to plan your viewing: