Gallo becomes first Italian FIA Gran Turismo Nations Cup champion

Gallo becomes first Italian FIA Gran Turismo Nations Cup champion

On a day where all eyes gravitated towards Saudi Arabia, many would be forgiven for choosing to catch up on the final FIA Gran Turismo World Finals event and the last major esports competition using GT Sport. The Nations Cup is considered the crown jewel of the available silverware on offer. No teammates, just yourself representing your country on the big stage.

Three regional semi-finals would converge into one final event of the weekend where Takuma Miyazono’s reign awaited its final challenge.

Semi-Final A – Asia/Oceania

Bathurst in Mazda Roadsters would be the task ahead of the Asia/Oceania field, home of course to Miyazono himself. The man who swept last year’s World Finals was second best to Ryota Kokubun in qualifying but swept around the outside of Hell Corner to take the lead on Lap 1.

With only the top five making it through to the Grand Finals, the biggest surprise was seeing Tomoaki Yamanaka only in sixth early stages. The man who had won the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup and Manufacturers’ Series was struggling whilst home hero Andrew Lee was flying up to first by the end of the third lap.

FIA Gran Turismo Nations Cup Semi-Final A Asia Oceania

Yamanaka would go home in naughty book after bullying Guy Barbara into the wall at The Cutting, rightly receiving a two-second slowdown penalty. This opened up the battle for the top five leading to a dramatic final lap where Miyazono came out on top to net a massive 12 points.

  1. T. Miyazono – 8 Laps
  2. M. McEwen – +0.310
  3. A. Lee – +0.312
  4. K. Kawakami – +0.415
  5. R. Kokubun – +0.501
  6. T. Kato – +0.599
  7. J. Wong – +1.731
  8. S. Iseri – +2.418
  9. T. Yamanaka – +3.825
  10. G. Barbara – +6.073

Semi-Final B – EMEA

The Nations Cup leader heading into the finals was the inaugural Olympic Virtual Series champion Valerio Gallo and the Italian was delighted to be driving an F1500T-A around his home comfort of Monza. He lined up third behind a front row of Patrick Blazsán and Jose Serrano. The lack of the Rettifilo chicane gave ample slipstream to all drivers with the Spaniard leading after the della Roggia.

With two different tyre compounds required to be used, the majority of the field dived into the pits at the end of Lap 1. With master strategist Coque López going for the alternate strategy, the next part of the race featured a warzone at the back and Gallo’s eventual pass on net leader Serrano with Blazsán falling back.

FIA Gran Turismo Nations Cup Semi-Final B - EMEA

Pitting just before the final lap, López left the pitlane just in time to witness Gallo and Serrano blasting past side-by-side. Though keeping touch, he would be a mere spectator to the exhilarating run to the line won by Gallo who extended his Cup lead. As the top six of EMEA qualified, Blazsán was lucky to sneak through.

  1. V. Gallo – 15 Laps
  2. J. Serrano – +0.046
  3. C. López – +0.796
  4. B. Beauvois – +2.281
  5. G. Mangano – +2.567
  6. P. Blazsán – +3.817
  7. N. Romero – +7.712
  8. N. Moysov – +8.666
  9. A. Haydar – +14.219
  10. Q. Jehoul – +14.606
  11. K. Drumont – +16.317
  12. Á. Tápai – +16.946
  13. M. Kravchenko – +21.700

Semi-Final C – Americas

The fictional Blue Moon Bay would host the final semi-final with those of the Americas given the Ford GT ‘17 to wrangle. In a field of only nine cars, Lucas Bonelli led Angel Inostroza with now three-times World Finals champion Igor Fraga P3 fresh off his Manufacturers’ win with Toyota.

The front four broke away early and though a few broke the trend, mostly everyone headed from the hard to the medium compound tyre at the end of the fourth lap. The story of the race would be the fight for fifth as, battling adversity and a poor starting place, Andrew Brooks muscled his way into the final key spot.

FIA Gran Turismo Nations Cup Semi-Final C - Americas

Crucially for the overall standings, Fraga’s late charge granted him second ahead of Inostroza. It was a long shot, but he was still in the hunt as Bonelli came home first.

  1. L. Bonelli – 17 Laps
  2. I. Fraga – +0.148
  3. A. Inostroza – +0.675
  4. J. Hernández – +0.827
  5. A. Brooks – +12.216
  6. R. Haywood – +12.425
  7. A. Carrazza – +12.919
  8. J. Pessôa – +17.321
  9. D. Solis – +22.686

Grand Finals

From the ‘17 to the LM Spec II and from Blue Moon to Dragon Trail; the Grand Finals were here with two mandatory pit stops and double points to boot. Fraga and Beauvois made big mistakes on their qualifying laps, relegating them to P14 and last on the grid respectively. An all EMEA front row featured Serrano on pole with Gallo alongside.

FIA Gran Turismo Nations Cup Grand Final race start

The Italian stormed into the lead after initially defending third-placed Bonelli hard. Starting on the Medium tyres along with the top two, Kanata Kawakami capitalised on a fantastic qualifying session to pounce on the unsettled Brazilian. The Japanese driver was inspired passing Serrano a couple of laps later – music to the ears of Gallo.

The highlights of the strategy-heavy race included the fall in pace for Serrano, Miyazono and Fraga putting themselves in the picture with an aggressive soft-tyre stint and Kawakami sadly throwing his good start away with a spin. Ultimately, by the final few laps, Gallo was still leading but on the Hard tyres whilst Miyazono and an inspired Beauvois were chasing; both on softer compounds.

FIA Gran Turismo Nations Cup Grand Final Gallo wins

The Frenchman completed a ‘last-to-first’ challenge on the biggest of stages overtaking both cars ahead with the majority of two laps to spare. It wasn’t to be, however. His tyres were shot and a mistake through the pre-tunnel chicane opened the door once more to Gallo who stormed to the Nations Cup title for Italy.

  1. V. Gallo – 22 Laps
  2. B. Beauvois – +0.290
  3. T. Miyazono – +1.775
  4. J. Serrano – +2.041
  5. L. Bonelli – +2.991
  6. J. Hernández – +3.126
  7. A. Inostroza – +4.628
  8. P. Blazsán – +4.851
  9. G. Mangano – +5.506
  10. R. Kokubun – +7.536
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