World Series Points are the lucrative currency this year for the FIA Gran Turismo Championships field. Score enough WSP and you bag your spot in the World Finals come December. Seems simple enough right? I choose the word ‘lucrative’ with good reason as only the podium places in World Series events dish out this crucial component to a driver’s campaign.
Whether competing in the Manufacturers Cup, Nations Cup or both – in order to find championship success, this season will require close to perfection.
Manufacturers Cup Qualifying
Suzuka International Racing Course would be destination one for the Manufacturers Cup. Hopes of a home victory were high with three drivers and four brands representing the land of the rising sun.
Japanese supporters were no doubt delighted then to witness Ryota Kokubun take pole position for Mazda against stiff competition. Honda’s Italian prodigy, Valerio Gallo, and Porsche’s Angel Inostroza got to within a tenth of P1.
Manufacturers Cup Race
Strategy was unevenly split as the rolling start got underway; the front row along with Lamborghini’s Manuel Troncoso and Audi’s Vinicius Neto opting for a soft tyre opening stint. The American was notably eager to make good on the compound advantage, making an early move on Inostroza. The ensuing fallout as the Chilean defended 4th left Neto on the backfoot and sliding down the order to seventh.
Gallo’s opening lap pace was rewarded with a move on Kokubun before hitting 130R. Meanwhile, the recovery drive was on for Audi’s representative as over the next few laps the Brazilian swiftly recovered back up to fourth.
Disaster would strike for the race leader on the fifth lap when a lapse in concentration saw him spin out of control at the same corner in which he took the lead. The resulting destruction of his tyres would force Gallo into an early pitstop. Though he now led, Kokubun wasn’t exactly left to his own devices however with the Lamborghini-sized shadow of Troncoso in close pursuit.
Early stops from 2020’s double World Champion, Takuma Miyazono, and Inostroza had left some asking questions of their strategy. The payoff was handsome as the Soft-tyre pace produced by both enabled them to undercut Neto.
The Porsche in particular was flying and, after getting by the Subaru, pounced on an opening forced by Troncoso in an attempt to snatch first position. Despite a great effort, the American would not be rewarded with any WSP though as a heartbreaking spin on the final lap gifted certain points to both Mazda and Subaru. Inostroza would not look back and bag three WSP for Porsche.
- PORSCHE – A. Inostroza – 15 LAPS
- MAZDA – R. Kokubun – +1.186
- SUBARU – T. Miyazono – +1.549
- MERCEDES-BENZ – L. Bonelli – +5.232
- FORD – T. Kato – +8.221
- LAMBORGHINI – M. Troncoso – +8.668
- TOYOTA – A. Carrazza – +11.295
- VOLKSWAGEN – D. Parker – +11.508
- HONDA – V. Gallo – +12.967
- CITROEN – A. Le – +13.032
- AUDI – V. Neto – +14.280
- BMW – N. Rubilar – +16.660
Nations Cup Qualifying
The Nations Cup would take place at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza with expectations of another thrilling race after the Suzuka rollercoaster. As this side of the championships is a spec series, this week’s car of choice was the Mazda RX-Vision GT3.
Canadian Andrew Brooks grabbed pole position by next to the tightest of margins with Brazil’s Adriano Carrazza just two thousandths behind at the end of the session. Home hero Gallo, eager to make up for his Manufacturers Race mistake, lined up third with the winner of that same race, Inostroza, continuing the good form with fifth.
Nations Cup Race
The Rettifilo chicane is always dangerous on a first lap and fourth-placed Lucas Bonelli fell foul being hung out to dry in the gravel. The Brazilian would lose three places overall. Compatriot Carrazza was deemed the offending party and dealt an on-track time penalty which, when served, dropped him down to seventh.
Brooks’ lead looked tenuous at best and eventually his defences were deconstructed by both Hungarian Patrick Blazsán and Gallo who had by this point already served a cutting penalty. Strategy wise, half the field had already made their first pitstop out of a necessary two. Aside from the top three, Bonelli, Carrazza, Inostroza and Gran Turismo stalwart Giorgio Mangano remained out and in combat.
The first pitstop phase came to an end on the ninth lap with first to fourth remaining as they were. Those who had come in much earlier now found themselves embroiled in a midfield warzone consisting of Bonelli downward. In an effort to undercut, Carrazza ran one lap of the undesirable Hard-tyre and switched the Mediums.
It was at this stage that Spaniard Coque López, recently departed from Williams Esports, grabbed attention with his final stint set to be on the Soft compound. Arriving out of pit exit, López slotted in comfortably behind Ádám Tápai before a successful overtake was locked in.
The extent of Coque’s master plan was revealed on the final lap as the leaders found themselves within a second of the Spaniard on pit exit, lumbered with a tyre compound two steps harder. Gallo had retaken the lead just sixty seconds before this point and only had Blazsán to deal with once López started to duel for third.
The Italian held on to complete his redemption arc of the evening whilst pole sitter Brooks was savagely beaten to the line; the WSP going the way of the strategic Spaniard.
- V. Gallo – ITALY – 17 Laps
- P. Blazsán – HUNGARY – +0.068
- C. López – SPAIN – +1.639
- A. Brooks – CANADA – +1.686
- T. Miyazono – JAPAN – +1.798
- J. Serrano – SPAIN – +2.319
- A. Inostroza – CHILE – +4.874
- G. Mangano – ITALY – +4.921
- B. Beauvois – FRANCE – +5.011
- L. Bonelli – BRAZIL – +5.236
- R. Kokubun – JAPAN – +5.639
- T. Yamanaka – JAPAN – +9.038
- Á. Tápai – HUNGARY – +9.741
- A. Carrazza – BRAZIL – +11.130