Race Report

Team Porsche’s Takuma Sasaki (SZ_TakuAn22) Racks Up Big Points Late in Series to Win Online Qualifiers!

Wednesday, 8 May, saw the opening of the ‘Gran Turismo World Series 2024 Online Qualifiers — Manufacturers Cup.’

Round 1 was held at the Nürburgring 24h circuit, where Team Mazda’s Ryota Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi) executed a pole-to-win finish to a tune of 455 points. This was a joyous occasion for Kokubun, who returned to Mazda after his title victory with Nissan last year.

Round 2 at Interlagos saw another pole-to-win, this time by Ferrari buster Umami_Eats01, who finished with a lead of over three seconds, ambushing Porsche ace Takuma Sasaki (SZ_TakuAn22) on the leaderboard.

Round 3 unfolded at the legendary Deep Forest Raceway. Starting second on the grid, Kokubun took the lead mid-way through the race and held his position all the way to the finish line, earning himself 453 points.

Round 4 at Suzuka Circuit saw dizzying changes in weather conditions that surely put each racer’s survival instincts to the test. After a dry start, a sudden downpour mid-way through the race sent seasoned Subaru driver Takuma Miyazono off the track on the Spoon Curve, allowing Sasaki an opportunity to take the lead. The last leg saw a return to dry conditions and a white-hot contest between Takuma and Miyazono. With his chance to represent Porsche on the line, it was do-or-die for Sasaki, who demonstrated perfect control of his machine and crossed the finish line first, netting 463 points. It was, without a doubt, a thrilling turning point in the series.

Round 5 was a high-speed showdown at the Daytona Road Course, where pole position was claimed by Chevrolet’s Goto (SZ_Goto259). As Chevrolet has displayed uncharacteristically solid performance in all regions this season, Goto was undoubtedly bent on making the most of his advantageous position. After maintaining a confident lead early on, he slipped to fourth in the last leg of the race, overtaken by some fierce driving by Toyota legend Yamanaka (yamado_racing38), Audi’s anchovy_sand_ and Lexus ace Kawakami (SG_Kawakana). However, on the 19th lap, Goto recovered his lead and finished with a score of 460 points.

The final race at Fuji International Speedway saw Lamborghini’s Kota (OP_VELTRO) take pole position while Sasaki, looking to clinch a spot for Porsche at the World Series finals, and take the Online Qualifiers title, started in second.

Things finally came to a head for Kota and Sasaki in the last leg. Taking the inside on the TGR Corner in Lap 4, Sasaki managed to overtake Kota, ultimately crossing finish line with a two-second lead. Scoring 460 points, Sasaki secured a spot for Porsche at the finals and won the qualifiers title in a brilliant display of racing prowess.

To date, the winners of online series events have generally been determined early on. Starting in somewhat of a slump, Sasaki showed grit and determination to reverse his fortune late in the game.

Second place went to Mazda’s Kokubun, who racked up some major points in the first part of the series, while third went to Audi’s anchovy_sand_, who has displayed a steady pace all season long.

'Gran Turismo World Series' 2024 Online Qualifiers — Manufacturers Cup
 1st / Porsche / Takuma Sasaki (SZ_TakuAn22) / 1361 Points
 2nd / Mazda / Ryota Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi) / 1344 Points
 3rd / Audi / anchovy_sand_ (anchovy_sand_) / 1342 Points