The last races before the FIA Certified Gran Turismo World Championship finals have taken place, with two very familiar names running out on top.
World Series 4 was a last chance for drivers to pick up pre-finals World Series points which will decide who takes home the famous “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” trophies this season, and it’s advantage to Team Toyota, and Italy’s Valerio Gallo.
Victory in this weekend’s racing have put the Toyota brand on top of the Manufacturer Series, while Gallo extends his already formidable Nations Cup lead to six points. Here’s how the races unfolded:
Toyota’s Igor Fraga put the GT86 Gr.4 on pole position for the four-lap race of the Nurburgring, just ahead of incumbent championship leader Mazda and Ryota Kokubun.
The Nordschleife is not exactly known for its wealth of overtaking spots, and indeed in the early stages of the race there was precious little change of position — with only Quinten Jehoul spinning out of seventh place after hitting the barrier in, ironically, Miss-Hit-Miss.
However Yuki Araki was keen to make his presence known in the Dodge Viper Gr.4, muscling past Kokubun for second, rather unexpectedly, through Kesselchen. Jose Serrano (Porsche) and Takuma Miyazono (Subaru) were in close attendance too, though Miyazono did start to fall away following an error at Eschbach.
The four-lap race carried with it a mandatory pit stop, largely on the basis of fuel consumption, and around half the field opted to take this stop at half distance. That included Araki and Kokubun, both of whom chose to take a fresh set of the hard tires as well as refuelling; the difference in fuel economy between the Dodge and the Mazda was clear to see, with Kokubun having 10 liters to spare over Araki, allowing for a far shorter stop.
That left the remaining six cars, including Fraga and Serrano at the front, to stop on lap three, and both, driving cars known to be kinder on their tires — chose to stay on their starting rubber. To little surprise, this brought the GT86 and the Cayman out in front of Kokubun’s Mazda Atenza, but only just in the case of the Porsche.
The final lap saw a 12-mile dogfight between Serrano and Kokubun for the podium spots, and it was eventually the Japanese driver who came out on top, using the fresh rubber to stick with the Porsche and then the additional power to drag clean past down the mile-long Dottinger Hohe.
Fraga though was uncatchable, leading every lap and taking the fastest lap too on a lights-to-flag win. With Kokubun in second, it means both Toyota and Mazda now have 13 points, with Toyota topping the table courtesy of a better result in the World Series Showdown. With Peugeot not racing in the World Final, that gives the Japanese brands a a four-point lead over defending champion Subaru on nine points.
World Series Points Standings (Manufacturers)
- Toyota – 13 points
- Mazda – 13 points
- Peugeot – 10 points
- Subaru – 9 points
- Volkswagen – 7 points
- Porsche – 7 points
- Jaguar – 6 points
- Aston Martin – 4 points
- Mercedes – 4 points
- Dodge – 3 points
- Honda – 3 points
Valerio Gallo showed why he’s both leading the championship and is our #1 rated driver by placing the Ferrari 458 Gr.3 on pole position for the Nations Cup race at Fuji, but he had some unexpected company.
Takuma Miyazono, who hasn’t had the best of seasons defending his 2020 titles, was alongside him on the front row, and got the better start initially. Although he had to slip into second for the first lap, it wasn’t long before the Japanese driver hit the front.
However disaster struck once again for Miyazono, as he found himself victim to the track. The notorious curb on the outside of the Coca Cola turn caught Miyazono out, and spat him off backwards into the scenery. He’d rejoin in seventh, but with points effectively out of sight.
That left a four-car train at the front, with Gallo, Fraga, Serrano, and Kanata Kawakami stretching out a gap to Tomoaki Yamanaka and Andrew Lee behind.
Soon it was three, with Kawakami falling into Yamanaka’s clutches, and it was Serrano’s turn to hit the front, but then came the pit stops.
Although all drivers started on the hard tire, only around half the field opted at or before half distance, with the front runners going an extra lap. That initially looked like an error, with the undercut bringing not Kawakami and Lee right back into the front pack, now a group of six.
However, the slightly fresher tires soon allowed the front four to drop Kawakami and Lee, and it became a four-car battle to the checkered flag.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Gallo hit the front with three laps to go, overtaking Serrano into the first turn, and from there mounted a solid defense of his position, resisting every attempt Serrano made to take the spot back. In the end the Spanish driver ran out of laps, resulting in a second successive Gallo-Serrano 1-2.
Despite the attentions of Yamanaka right up to the finish line, Fraga was able to hold on for third to score his first World Series point other than those he picked up in the Showdown.
World Series Points Standings (Nations)
- Valerio Gallo (Italy) – 18 points
- Jose Serrano (Spain) – 12 points
- Ryota Kokubun (Japan) – 10 points
- Coque Lopez (Spain) – 8 points
- Igor Fraga (Brazil) – 7 points
- Angel Inostroza (Chile) – 5 points
- Patrik Blazsan (Hungary) – 5 points
- Takuma Miyazono (Japan) – 4 points
- Adam Tapai (Hungary) – 3 points
- Nikita Moysov (Czechia) – 2 points
- Tomoaki Yamanaka (Japan) – 2 points
- Quinten Jehoul (Belgium) – 1 point
- Adriano Carrazza (Brazil) – 1 point
- Baptiste Beauvois (France) – 1 point
That’s the final racing action in both championships until the World Final this December. The 16 drivers we’ve seen racing in the Nations Cup will be joined there by 16 online qualifiers — including the returning Patrik Blazsan and Baptiste Beauvois — while the 12 brands who’ve qualified from the Online Season 2 will bring three-man squads for the final push.
In each case, the brands and drivers will carry the points they have scored so far into the final and race for more across several rounds of competition, with the points leader in each event at the end of the races crowned as champion for 2021.
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