The third round of the Gran Turismo World Series Nations Cup has been won by Spain and Jose Serrano after a heated battle.
Just like the Manufacturers Cup race seven days prior, won by Toyota’s Ryota Kokubun, the remodelled Deep Forest Raceway was the venue. Unlike that race, however, each competitor would be in the same game – a classic Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette Group 5 ’84, which was added to Gran Turismo 7 in July.
During the single-lap qualifying, it would be Serrano driving the 38-year wide body the quickest, taking pole position, 0.1s ahead of Kokubun.
A second Japanese driver, Kanata Kawakami, would complete the top three. Current points leader and 2018 champion, Igor Fraga, could only manage eighth.
The race would be across 15 laps, and Spain held onto the lead in the early stages, as was to be expected with the spaced-out rolling start.
After a staid opening lap, the winner of the second round in October, Angel Inostroza, moved Chile up from seventh to sixth, passing Tomoaki Yamanaka into the first corner. Just behind, all three Brazilians were line astern, Fraga leading Adriano Carrazza and opening round winner Lucas Bonelli.
With Serrano building a lead, Kokubun and Kawakami started coming under pressure from reigning champion Valerio Gallo and Showdown winner Kylian Drumont.
Gallo tried into the first corner on the third lap, but the Japanese entrant held off. A lap later, the same move, and after some rubbing, the Italian driver prevailed. The same move was repeated minutes later for second position.
Another trip around the fictional venue later and this time it was Drumont making the move on Kawakami. This move was reversed soon after, the slipstream proving pivotal with a field of boxy R31s.
At the halfway point, the top three – Spain, Italy and Japan – were fighting for position. The tow down the main straight was key, with drivers sometimes driving down the left side of the track to cover the inside line or backing off to time their runs.
It made for a nerve-racking game of cat and mouse, with Serrano under siege.
After running three-wide through the first corner, Kokubun was eased wide and was unsuspectingly overtaken by Drumont for third.
As the laps ticked down, it was five for the lead, each time the defence and attack into the opening turn proving to be fraught. With three laps left, France jumped up another position, Drumont going around the outside of Gallo. It lasted only one and a half minutes, as the favour was returned.
By now, Inostroza had joined the train at the rear, something that perhaps contributed to Kawakami’s lunge on both his compatriot and Drumont at the hairpin. The net result was the top two breaking away, and Chile up to fourth.
Onto the final lap and Serrano once again used his now-customary defensive line – Gallo shielded against. Behind, Inostroza pulled off another late-race move for third. Despite intense pressure throughout, that’s how it stayed across the line.
“This victory felt great as I needed to get closer to the points leaders, and with this win, I got quite a bit closer,” said Serrano.
“To be honest, it was really hard keeping the other behind me, but in the end, I managed to defend in an aggressive and fair way.”
Next up for both the Nations Cup and the Manufacturers Cup are the World Finals in Monaco, 26th and 27th November.
GRAN TURISMO NATIONS CUP 2022, ROUND 3, RACE RESULTS
- Spain – Jose Serrano – 15 laps
- Italy – Valerio Gallo +0.250
- Chile – Angel Inostroza +0.308
- France – Kylian Drumont +1.054
- Japan – Ryota Kokubun +1.120
- Japan – Kanata Kawakami +1.202
- France – Baptiste Beauvois +4.897
- Brazil – Lucas Bonelli +5.055
- Brazil – Igor Fraga +5.564
- Brazil – Adriano Carrazza +8.964
- Japan – Tomoaki Yamanaka +8.964
- New Zealand – Matthew McEwen +10.665
Images: Polyphony Digital