Team Spain Wins 2023 Gran Turismo World Series Showdown Nations Cup

Spain’s Coque Lopez, Jose Serrano, and Pol Urra took a dominant victory for their country in the first event for the new team-based Nations Cup.

A bold strategy call, executed to perfection, meant that the Spanish squad wasn’t troubled throughout the race and took the checkered flag by an enormous margin as all of their rivals made errors in the 30-lap race.

It didn’t go entirely Spain’s way across the day though, with Team France taking pole position in the initial qualifying session before running away with the rather unexpected qualifying race session.

France’s talismanic driver Kylian Drumont was the fastest in the Ferrari Vision GT at Grand Valley, allowing the team first pick of the high-performance road cars available for the qualifying race. They opted for the Mercedes-AMG GT, with Italy selecting the Honda NSX (naturally chosen by Valerio Gallo), and third-placed Japan taking the Porsche 911 996 GT3.

An entertaining, race-long battle saw Japan, Italy, and Spain — with yesterday’s Manufacturers Cup winner Jose Serrano at the wheel — trading places on a corner-by-corner basis, but on the last lap both Gallo and Rikuto Kobayashi picked up track limits penalties which allowed Spain to take a distant second behind France.

That set the grid for the final itself and Spain took the unusual step of fitting the soft tires first, with every other squad opting for medium or hard tires in the first stint.

Unsurprisingly it didn’t take long for Spain to make the tire advantage count, with newcomer Pol Urra sweeping past Thomas Labouteley on braking into turn five to hit the front. Over the course of the coming laps the field split up into tire groups, with Spain firmly in the lead, France leading the medium runners and Brazil heading the hard pack in seventh.

With minimum tire stint requirements this was largely the position until the first stops which saw the hard-runners coming in first to ditch the slowest compound and all electing for mediums. The exception was, unfortunately, Malaysia which made an error and didn’t switch tires at all. That meant an extra stop was needed and ruled the team out of contention entirely.

The cars that started on the mediums were next to blink, with most swapping to hard tires. Canada went for the alternate strategy and picked up a set of softs in the hope of blasting through the pack and defending at the end, while Spain — starting on those soft tires — managed to push its first stint almost to half race-distance before diving in for a set of mediums.

It was this second stint that effectively ended France’s challenge. Coming out into a battle with Team Japan, France picked up a warning for blocking before scoring some track limits penalties — which isn’t easy at Lago Maggiore — to drop the team behind Italy and, thanks to the tire differential, Brazil too.

With 22 laps on the board, Spain and Canada both pitted for the final time to collect the final required hard tire, while the rest of the grid was now on the soft rubber. While Canada was within easy reach of the pack behind, Spain had a colossal 31-second advantage and it looked utterly insurmountable.

Kobayashi made pretty short work of Mark Pinnell in the Canadian car, with Canada losing out to Brazil, a resurgent French car, and Italy all at once only four corners later. However the Japanese driver also picked up a track limits penalty that halted his charge forwards — which was 4.5-seconds a lap at one point, and certainly enough to catch Serrano in the lead.

But it soon became apparent that the soft tire was reaching the end of its most effective period, highlighted by a rare crash from Kylian Drumont as the Team France car swapped ends leaving the bowl hairpin. While still closing Spain down, Japan simply couldn’t make up the time required.

That left Serrano to take the checkered flag first again — a clean sweep of the Showdown weekend — to claim victory for Spain, with Japan in second and the strong Brazilian squad in third.

It’s just over three and a half months now until the World Final which will, for the first time, be taking place in Barcelona at the start of December. Considering the margin of victory here, Spain looks like an incredibly hard squad to beat and will surely be favorites to lift the trophy on home turf.

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