Team Subaru — Kylian Drumont, Takuma Miyazono, and Daniel Solis — has regained the GT World Series Manufacturers Cup title after a nailbiting final race at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
The 2020 champions headed into this weekend’s World Finals tied on points with defending champions Toyota, and actually ended the event still tied on points but took the title based on their relative positions in the Grand Final race itself.
In fact the final didn’t start out that well for Subaru, with the team only able to qualify in sixth for the first race at Deep Forest Reverse. Toyota placed second, behind a resurgent Porsche team, with Genesis a surprise third.
Mercedes, third in the championship, made a quick start but ended up spinning the Genesis at the bottom of the hill to earn a two-second penalty. Genesis also picked up a penalty for an unsafe rejoin, allowing Subaru up into fourth.
With Toyota opting for a different strategy, going onto hard tires for the middle part of the race, Volkswagen soon slipped past into second before Subaru overtook in the bridge section. However there was contact in the process, and Subaru received a one-second penalty.
Further back, Mazda was eliminated from the race due to a technical fault on its rig; that was actually the same rig which failed on both Andika Rama Maulana and Valerio Gallo earlier in the weekend, although it had everything swapped out after those incidents. Nissan then crashed at high speed after squeezing the McLaren too hard through the fast kink on the main straight.
There was no catching Porsche at the front, with Takuma Sasaki driving the final stint and taking the win by almost seven seconds. However Toyota would extend its championship lead to four points by finishing in second while Subaru could only place fifth. Mercedes with a podium finish, closed up to within a point of Subaru.
That set the stage for the final race at Spa, which had a twist to offer: rain. Starting in wet conditions, everyone but championship leader Toyota would start on Intermediate ties, with Toyota on full wets.
It quickly became apparent that this wasn’t the way to go. The Porsche streaked off into the distance while the Toyota was holding up the cars behind; it didn’t take long for Mercedes to make it past, relegating Toyota to third and propelling Porsche up into the championship lead.
With the track starting to dry, Toyota was the first onto the hard tires. It looked a bit of a risk, but soon it was the quickest car on the track and once everyone had made the swap the team was back up into second.
That became first again after a disaster for Porsche. Approaching Ickx, the Porsche touched the wet lines and went straight on into the barriers. Toyota inherited the lead and a massive points advantage in the championship — but it would all change once again when the rain came back.
Everyone except Subaru, Mercedes, and Volkswagen switched to intermediate tires, and while that was the quicker option initially the rain just kept coming. That played into Subaru’s hands as, on the full wet tire, it became by far the fastest car and carved back up through the field.
Eventually, on lap 24 and with its lead cut down to just six seconds, Toyota ducked into the long pit lane for wet tires and Subaru took the championship lead. Mercedes though could smell victory and slipped past the Subaru as the Subaru team was making its way past Genesis, but the lead didn’t even last one corner as Mercedes made the same mistake that Porsche had earlier.
Incredibly Toyota came right back into it, using the wet tires to get back up into second place and only two seconds down on the Subaru. That tied them on points again, but with the Grand Final result being the tie-breaker it was still Subaru’s championship.
With Toyota needing the win, the final three laps were as exciting as anything we’ve seen in the World Series before; the Supra had a significant advantage in sectors one and three, but the Subaru would make it all back in sector two. Kylian Drumont would hold on to take the race win for Subaru by just 2.5s from Toyota, and with it the Manufacturers Cup title.
We just have the Nations Cup final to go, starting at 1600 UTC today, and it’ll need to be something truly spectacular to match that.