Porsche Wins GT World Series Showdown Manufacturers Cup

Team Porsche, fighting with a man down, overhauled a 14-second deficit to win the GT World Series Showdown Manufacturers Cup event at Suzuka in Amsterdam.

Missing arguably its strongest driver in Angel Inostroza, who sustained a leg fracture in a traffic accident last month, the duo of Takuma Sasaki and Jose Serrano put in a stellar performance to claim only Porsche’s third victory in Gran Turismo.

After a strong qualifying, Porsche was able to take part in the top-six superpole event, but had to settle for third behind defending champion Team Subaru and the polesitting Team BMW car thanks to a stunning effort from Thomas Labouteley.

However BMW’s lead would last only until second Degner when, after being harassed all the way through the opening lap by the Subaru — the only car in the field to opt for a start on Racing Medium tires — an unforced error saw the M6 skitter into the gravel.

Released from the BMW’s rear wing, Takuma Miyazono sprinted clear in the Subaru to leave what can only be described as quite the kerfuffle in his wake.

With the exception of Toyota, who had a poor qualification session and opted to make a lap one stop to switch from Hard to Medium tires, just about every other car in the pack was on the same piece of asphalt and places were changing from corner to corner.

The situation wasn’t helped by some robust driving which saw several interventions from the stewards. Nissan and Genesis in particular seemed to be at the center of many incidents and multiple warnings and penalties.

If that wasn’t quite chaotic enough, the threat of rain soon turned into a promise of it and it wasn’t long before the loss of grip had an impact — quite literally. Team Mazda was the first to blink, switching to grooved Intermediate tires shortly after an incident involving the Genesis at the Triangle.

It wasn’t clear how wise that was, with only some of the circuit subject to small showers, but it some became apparent that rain tires were the only way to go and much of the field pitted for the inters. Team Subaru made an uncharacteristic error though, with Miyazono crossing the pit lane entry line and earning a three-second penalty.

With a 23-second advantage at this point — over Team Lamborghini, surprisingly — it seemed immaterial.

By now the entire field was on the Intermediate tire, effectively stabilizing the race in terms of strategy. However the conditions, worsening and most poor over at the Spoon Curve, were exceptionally tricky and we saw unusual crashes and off-track excursions for Honda, McLaren, and Toyota.

Perhaps even more unexpectedly, Randall Haywood in the Lamborghini was catching up to Kylian Drumont in the Subaru, with the gap steadily coming down to around 14 seconds over the course of the squall.

With the rain over and the track drying, most of the field came in for slicks again, but Subaru — the only team required to switch to the worse, Hard option on a cold and damp track — came in later than anyone except Lamborghini.

That set off a ten-lap chase which appeared fruitless with 14 seconds separating Subaru from Lamborghini and 11 seconds from Lamborghini to Porsche. It soon became clear though that Roberto Sternberg was struggling on the Hard tire, while Serrano was very much in his element.

Carving four seconds a lap out of the cars ahead, Serrano first passed the Lamborghini of Yuki Kodaka and then hunted down the ailing BRZ ahead. Sternberg tried to defend the inside line of the hairpin, but Serrano just drove right round the outside of him and into the lead.

That wasn’t quite the job done though, as Serrano still had to get the Porsche to the finish with a relatively narrow dry line (and treacherous curbs), but he did so in style to win by over six seconds.

Subaru held on to claim second, leaving it in a good place to defend its title when the World Final in Barcelona comes round in December, while Lamborghini claimed its first ever World Series podium to this disbelief of British team member Will Murdoch who exclaimed “I don’t really know how we’re here, to be honest”.

Toyota did manage to recover to fourth, ahead of Nissan and the pole-sitting BMW, while it was a race to forget for Mercedes-AMG which had a torrid time in the wet portion of the race to finish last.

The new-format Nations Cup event will come along tomorrow, starting at the same time of 1700UTC, as 12 teams of countrymen fight for vital World Series points ahead of December’s World Final.

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