The highly entertaining, mid-season Showdown event was once again a demonstration of why Gran Turismo esports is so enjoyable. Setting up the second half of the season beautifully, on Sunday the main championships returned with their established format of Manufacturers and Nations action.
Manufacturers Cup Qualifying
After Japanese rule in Germany last time out, things were a little more international at the Red Bull Ring. The Porsche of Jose Serrano lined up on pole position by thousandths ahead of Igor Fraga’s Toyota. The second row would see the welcome additions of a Dodge under the command of Yuhki Araki and Peugeot’s Quinten Jehoul alongside for the start.
Manufacturers Cup Race
While battling in the midpack was fierce in the opening stages, the front runners were very well behaved until Fraga had run his patience staring at the back of Serrano’s Porsche. After a half-baked attempt on the sixth laps, the Brazilian made a launch for the lead which backfired as Araki slipped through.
Lap 8 saw third, fourth and fifth all dive into the pits with all three electing to take a fresh pair of boots in hopes of an undercut. Serrano responded the following lap though Araki made the curious call not to, especially as the Spaniard only just maintained the net lead. It all came to a head on Lap 10 where Fraga would overtake the Porsche through Niki Lauda Kurve just as Araki exited pit lane – in first place!
The action continued to run up through Remus and into Schlossgold once more where somehow Serrano managed to get the lead back whilst Jehoul snuck through into the podium places. The Belgian wasn’t done there with a superb dive into Remus on Lap 13 which saw Araki caught completely unaware. The Japanese driver was calm on the response, finding a similar move successful on Lap 15.
Fraga was having a torrid time keeping up and dealt a small time penalty which wrecked his podium chances completely. His presence might have led to too many cooks in the kitchen though as the final few laps were superb to watch.
Serrano defended superbly to grab victory which in turn led to Jehoul pouncing to claim second place as his own. Despite a heroic effort, Araki would have to settle for the position he started in.
- PORSCHE – J. Serrano – 20 LAPS
- PEUGEOT – Q. Jehoul – +0.376
- DODGE – T. Araki – +0.658
- SUBARU – T. Miyazono – +2.327
- MERCEDES-BENZ – B. Beauvois – +3.944
- ASTON MARTIN – A. Regalado – +4.389
- TOYOTA – I. Fraga – +18.020 – +4.522
- HONDA – S. Sugimori – +6.680
- JAGUAR – Á. Tápai – +8.167
- VOLKSWAGEN – H. Okumoto – +9.243
- NISSAN – M. Straka – +13.285
- MAZDA – R. Kokubun – +13.469
Nations Cup Qualifying
The much loved Audi R8 LMS would be the vehicle of choice for this round of the Nations Cup with Willow Springs as the location for battle. After another impressive performance earlier, Jehoul would find himself in pole position ahead of the Nations Cup veteran Valerio Gallo. Serrano would back himself for a potential double win from third while Takuma Miyazono would be hoping for a podium after just missing out in the Manufacturers Series.
Nations Cup Race
In the war of tyre strategy, the front six – with the notable exception of Fraga – would start on Racing Soft rubber. The Brazilian would eventually fall behind the Soft-running Andrew Lee with the duels behind as stormy as seen at the Red Bull Ring. Aside from some experimental strategy calls near the back, the race would settle down significantly.
It wouldn’t be until all Racing Medium tyred runners had pitted that any of the top five would roll the dice; Miyazono and Lee choosing to chance their luck on an undercut. Gallo, Jehoul and Serrano weren’t willing to call their bluffs and followed suit on the next rotation. Despite the potential for shenanigans, the order remained status quo.
After leading for 18 laps, however, Jehoul would not remain in control. Under pressure from the nose of Gallo behind, the rear snapped on the Belgian’s Audi and allowed the Italian to slip through. Fraga meanwhile was beginning to find the benefits of his alternate strategy. Passing Lee with ease, he had five laps to make up four seconds.
Jehoul’s frustration wasn’t forthcoming but heading onto the final lap a tiny clip of the sand on the final corner’s exit would give Serrano all the incentive he needed to relegate the young star into 3rd. Desperately brutal after such a great drive. Gallo would have space to himself as he crossed the line for yet another win in the Nations Cup.
- V. Gallo – ITALY – 25 Laps
- J. Serrano – SPAIN – +0.935
- Q. Jehoul – BELGIUM – +1.049
- T. Miyazono – JAPAN – +1.147
- I. Fraga – BRAZIL – +3.111
- N. Moysoc – CZECH REPUBLIC – +5.602
- A. Lee – AUSTRALIA – +7.592
- L. Bonelli – BRAZIL – +7.742
- T. Yamanaka – JAPAN – +8.687
- C. López – SPAIN – +9.348