For the first time ever, esports has made its way into the Olympic picture. Timed exactly a month before Tokyo 2020 gets underway, some of the FIA Gran Turismo Championships stars had the opportunity to add another trophy to their cabinets through the Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event – a three-race mini-GT Sport championship which proved to be a huge victory for sim racing.
The first bout would take place on Tokyo Expressway’s East Outer Loop and featured the Toyota 86 Gr.4 machine. Germany’s Mikail Hizal would take pole position and the point that comes with it in the tight, single-lap qualifying session.
The unique nature of the circuit meant that even a strong start might not have been enough to fend off the incredibly powerful slipstream effect on the run to Turn 1. Baptiste Beauvois, who had qualified on the front row alongside Hizal, knew this and managed his timing perfectly to execute a beautiful move around the outside for an early lead change.
Despite a couple of draft exchanges, Beauvois would maintain the advantage in large part down to the scrap behind including Hizal, Takuma Miyazono, a returning Igor Fraga and belatedly, Valerio Gallo. The racing was intense with the first and final turns the only real places where an overtake could stick.
The Frenchman would win rather comfortably, while behind, the podium scrap was anything but. Spain’s Jose Serrano steamed into the final corner taking Gallo out although the Italian would still claim third behind Fraga after a post-race penalty was applied to the offender. Pole sitter Hizal would have to settle for fifth.
- B. Beauvois – FRANCE – 7 Laps
- I. Fraga – BRAZIL – +1.380
- V. Gallo – ITALY – +1.919
- T. Miyazono – JAPAN – +2.170
- M. Hizal – GERMANY – +3.196
- N. Moysov – CZECH REPUBLIC – +3.254
- P. Blazsán – HUNGARY – +3.307
- A. Inostroza – CHILE – +5.716
- S. Chau – HONG KONG – +5.757
- K. Konstantinou – GREECE – +5.762
From the streets of Japan’s capital to the Italian island of Sardinia, the second race of the evening wasn’t just a dramatic change of track scenery. Thirteen laps in the Toyota GR Yaris would mean a pitstop was inevitable – two types of tyre compound had to be utilised.
It would be a repeat front row appearance for both Hizal and Beauvois with another point going the way of the German. Fraga, Miyazono and Gallo all qualified strongly inside the top five. The Brazilian would cause early alarm however as he veered off the road immediately as the lights went out, effectively putting an end to his OVS title challenge.
This opened the door to Patrick Blazsán who was quick to pass Gallo in fourth and for good reason as he, along with those in the podium positions, were all on the medium tyre. Hizal and Beauvois would exchange race lead a few times before all four front runners would head into the pits at the end of the sixth lap.
After a thrilling final lap as their tyres held on for dear life, Beauvois would claim a sensational second victory ahead of a hard-charging Blazsán and Miyazono. A dejected Hizal would once again not feature on the podium.
- B. Beauvois – FRANCE – 13 Laps
- P. Blazsán – HUNGARY – +0.246
- T. Miyazono – JAPAN – +0.253
- M. Hizal – GERMANY – +0.440
- N. Moysov – CZECH REPUBLIC – +1.753
- V. Gallo – ITALY – +1.869
- J. Serrano – SPAIN – +3.538
- A. Inostroza – CHILE – +4.516
- A. Brooks – CANADA – +9.454
- A. Wilk – AUSTRALIA – +11.577
The Grand Final would bring the competitors to Dragon Trail in search of a championship breaking double points score; the GR Supra Racing Concept Gran Turismo’s vehicle of choice. Three different types of tyre compound were required in this event spanning 18 laps.
Hizal and Beauvois could have repeated their front row results of the evening had it not been for a stellar Gallo lap. The Italian would start on the soft compound along with fellow contender Miyazono whilst Hizal and Beauvois would begin their final races on the mediums.
After such a strong campaign, Beauvois’ dream would turn into a nightmare as early contact saw him tumbling off the track before being spun to add insult to injury. His chances of winning were in tatters. Miyazono also suffered a poor start, dropping behind Moysev and Canada’s Andrew Brooks before swiftly undoing the damage done. Hizal was next on the road and an easy target thanks to the compound deficit.
Gallo’s opening stint had given him a three-second buffer to everyone behind and, as the race progressed, that gap only extended. The biggest aid came from a Miyazono driver error of all things; the breakout star of 2020 clattering the wall and losing two positions.
The Italian was practically untouchable until the final lap of the race when Hizal caught up with his two-step softer tyres. In a nail-biting finish, Gallo just held on to become the only pole sitter to win a race in the evening and, more importantly, he became the first-ever Olympic Virtual Series motorsport event champion!
- V. Gallo – ITALY – 18 Laps
- M. Hizal – GERMANY – +0.080
- J. Serrano – SPAIN – +5.005
- A. Inostroza – CHILE – +5.259
- P. Blazsán – HUNGARY – +8.365
- T. Miyazono – JAPAN – +8.736
- N. Moysov – CZECH REPUBLIC – +11.383
- K. Konstantinou – GREECE – +12.372
- B. Beauvois – FRANCE – +12.723
- S. Chau – HONG KONG – +14.520