Kicking off the third round of the Gran Turismo World Series racing esports competition was the Manufacturers Cup – this time at the remodelled Deep Forest Raceway.
11 of the best Gran Turismo 7 racers lined up for this event, with Jaguar sadly unable to participate. This was the last chance to secure Manufacturers Cup points ahead of the World Finals in Monaco later this month.
In qualifying for the 16-lap main event, Volkswagen’s Seiya Suzuki shocked the field with the quickest time. Subaru’s Kylian Drumont was equally surprised right at the back of the pack.
At the start of the race, Suzuki and AMG’s Lucas Bonelli vaulted, opting to use the soft compound of tyre in the opening stint. Behind, Toyota’s Ryota Kokubun went for the slower, but more durable, medium compound and started to fall back.
The fourth-placed Nissan of Mehdi Hafidi was the only other driver on softs for the start and soon moved up to third.
Further back, Angel Inostroza and Nicolas Romero went side-by-side into the braking zone for the hairpin, but the Porsche was too keen to outdo the Genesis and ended up hitting the hapless Mazda of Giorgio Mangano.
These three would then hold each other up with a ferocious battle, Adriano Carrazza joining in a lap later. So too would Arthur Mosso. Running in fifth, the Mitsubishi driver hit the wall on the inside of the first corner trying to overtake Kokubun.
In the middle of the fourth lap, Bonelli caught and overtook Suzuki for the lead, only for VW to fight back a lap later. The three soft runners had created a gap, although the Toyota in fourth was still within striking distance and on the slower tyre type.
The AMG and Nissan both visited pitlane at the end of the sixth lap, while Suzuki stayed out a lap longer.
The battle pack in the middle of the field simply became too heated. Having thrown caution to the wind from the very first lap, eventually, someone was going to lose out. That was Mangano, who ran wide on the grass trying to pass Romero, before spearing off stage right and collecting Inostroza.
While the Porsche continued relatively unscathed, the Mazada – in its Spirit Racing livery – was facing the wrong way.
Of those who had swapped softs for mediums still placed VW, AMG and Nissan, but all three were running closely and caught up to the BMW of Erik Cases Vazquez who was yet to stop.
As Suzuki came up to the slower M6, Bonelli jumped both. Soon after, however, Hafidi would benefit from a double slipstream to pull a similar move, and with most of the field having completed their mandatory pitstops, now led.
But it was short-lived, as Bonelli once again fought back. The action between the top three was frenetic, yet as each lap progressed, the now soft-shod Toyota Supra was becoming ever-present.
The Japanese driver picked off Hafidi first, the Suzuki and finally, on the penultimate lap, Bonelli for the lead.
Kokubun crossed the line moments later to take the second victory in a row for Toyota, following Igor Fraga’s win in September.
“Honestly, I was divided on whether to start on softs or mediums,” said the race winner.
“The cars in front were battling it out and [that] allowed me to drive at my own pace calmly. I think that led to this result.”
It means, heading into the final, both Toyota and Subaru have 10 points at the head of the table, ahead of Mercedes-AMG with seven.
GRAN TURISMO MANUFACTURERS CUP 2022, ROUND 3, RACE RESULTS
- Toyota – Ryota Kokubun- 16 laps
- AMG – Lucas Bonelli +1.573
- Volkswagen – Seiya Suzuki +2.033
- Nissan – Mehdi Hafidi +4.609
- Porsche – Angel Inostroza +8.600
- Mitsubishi – Arthur Mosso +8.633
- Chevrolet – Adriano Carrazza +9.565
- Genesis – Nicolas Romero +9.803
- Subaru – Kylian Drumont +10.516
- Mazda – Giorgio Mangano +15.922
- BMW – Erik Cases Vazquez +19.237
Images: Polyphony Digital