Nearly a year has gone by since GT Sport‘s initial launch and things are getting serious. The game’s linchpin feature — the FIA Championship — is nearly at its climax, and October 2018 will be a significant time for all involved.
Over the next few weekends, Polyphony Digital will hold the three regional finals. Each event will whittle the Nations Cup field down from 30 qualifying drivers to just 10, for the world final next month, where they’ll join the 48 drivers already qualified for the Manufacturer Series.
Asia-Oceania Final, Tokyo, October 6-8
The first final will get underway this coming weekend, with the Asia-Oceania players fighting for their spots in the final. It’ll be held during the Tokyo Motor Festival 2018, at the Mega Web automotive museum and theme park.
For this, Polyphony will separate the drivers into three blocs. There’ll be 10 drivers from Japan, 10 from Australia, and 10 made up of qualifiers from Hong Kong, New Zealand and Taiwan.
An initial round of Gr.3 races tailored to each bloc — Fuji Speedway for the Japanese drivers, Mount Panorama for the Australian drivers and Kyoto Yamagiwa for the Asia/Oceania drivers — will see the top two in each race advance to the finals. The bottom two in each race will be eliminated, with the remaining 18 drivers bunched together into two repechage events. The top two in each of these N300-class second-chance races at Tsukuba will then move to the finals.
It’s no stretch to say that Japan is the strongest nation here. In each of the Nations Cup seasons so far, Japanese drivers have dominated the top ten, and won all but one. Akagi_1942mi — Ryota Kokubun — won the final season and has placed in the top five in two others, and is sure to be among the favorites. However Australia is sending two GT Academy finalists, Dan Holland (TRL_holl01) and GT Academy winner Matt Simmons (MINT_GTR), who should fancy their chances of making the final at the first attempt.
In the Asia-Oceania bloc, New Zealander Simon Bishop (sidawg2) and Kai Hin Jonathon Wong (saika159-) from Hong Kong are likely to be the two strongest drivers.
Japan’s strength in depth should see more than a handful win through the repechage races. Yusuke Nakao (CLS63AMG-sc) and Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) both competed in the Japanese team in the recent World Tour event in Austria, placing fifth behind four European teams. However the third member of that team won’t be at the final, despite finishing second in the final season, for as-yet unknown reasons.
Following these qualification races, there’ll be more racing on the Sunday to determine a winner for the Asia-Oceania region. This may not have any bearing on the world final itself, but it’s a chance to win a trophy before the main event. The fun carries on through Monday too. The finalists will all engage in a Manufacturer Series exhibition event, and members of the public can race for prizes too.
You’ll be able to stay up to date with the whole event right here on GTPlanet this weekend.
Europe/Middle East Final, Madrid, October 19-20
The 30 EMEA drivers will have to wait another two weeks for their final event, taking place at the Madrid Games Week.
Sony has only very recently announced this event, so as yet we have no information on the players competing, their nationalities or races that will make up this regional final. However, the announcement assures us of a “series of intense races”. Like the Asia-Oceania final, there’ll be a competition to determine an overall winner in addition to the 10 representatives from Europe.
With each nation having a maximum of three drivers at the finals, the ten drivers who get through to the World Final will be a pretty varied mix. The United Kingdom, Germany and Hungary will all be confident of sending at least one participant to the November showcase. GTPlanet’s Adam Suswillo (GTP_Aderrrm) was Europe’s top-ranked driver in the final Nations Cup season, and represented the UK at the event’s announcement. We didn’t get to see Suswillo in action in Salzburg, but Mikail Hizal — perhaps better known as TRL_LIGHTNING — did take part and won the Manufacturer Series. Hizal managed to win both FIA events in season two and with the experience of Salzburg under his belt should be on the list come November.
Hungary was the World Tour’s surprise package. A crushing performance saw its representatives — Patrik Blazsan (TRL_Fuvaros), Adam Tapai (TX3_Adam18), and Benjamin Bader (Benito-Raul) — take three wins and one second place, winning by a giant margin. Blazsan has also recently added the NISMO GT Sport Cup crown to his resume and should be a firm favorite.
Reflecting the tight nature of competition in Europe, there’s ten nationalities in the top 20 of the Final Season in the Nations Cup. We’d be keeping an eye on local drivers Manuel Rodriguez Rincon (TRL_MANURODRY) from Spain and Portugal’s Diogo Pontes (JIM_Azorean_Fat) to do well too.
Americas Final, Las Vegas, October 31
The final for the North, Central and South America group will take place midweek, in an undisclosed location in Las Vegas on Halloween. There will be a lot going on in Vegas that week, as the regional finals coincide with the SEMA Show and the annual Gran Turismo Awards.
Like the Euro event, information is thin on the ground at the moment. However, the Vegas location does give home advantage to the US group — some potential finalists even live in Sin City. This includes Richard Castro (OutlawQuadrant), who we saw recently in action at the World Tour event in Salzburg. Along with compatriot Andrew McCabe (TRL_Doodle) and ErickFrank Santiago (gtr3123), the Americans put in a strong showing, winning the Manufacturer Series exhibition event in the case of McCabe, and the experience should stand them in good stead. They’ll likely be joined by GT Academy winner Nick McMillen (GumballCGT), who finished as top US player in two of the three official FIA seasons.
Brazil’s Salzburg trio of Thiago Gonzaga (FT_Solid), Vinicius Neto (FT_hellZfirEJP), and Adriano Carrazza (CRT-Didico15) should all also qualify and each managed the top 20 in the Americas routinely in the online events. Although they didn’t come away from Austria with any silverware, the experience should stand them in good stead, and Vegas is at least closer to their own time zone. Elsewhere in South America, Chile’s Nicolas Rubilar (FT_NicoR) is in routinely in the top handful, and we’d expect both him and Canada’s Jeffrey Gallan (LLOYDZELITE69) to be in the final ten come the end of play.
Featured image courtesy of KloakinDevice.