- WORLD FINALS
- With an Unparalleled Team Performance, Lexus Snag the First Manufacturer Series Trophy!
- FIA Gran Turismo Championships 2018 World Finals / Manufacturer Series
The manufacturers that secured a place in the top sixteen of the Online Series gathered in Monaco. Bringing together the top drivers of the Americas, EMEA and Asia/Oceania regions to represent them, three drivers on each team, they prepared for the ultimate battle, their pride and honour on the line.
The first qualifier took place a day before the big race, with the top six teams then continuing to the second qualifying stage.
With Chile’s Nicolás Rubilar (FT_NicoR) at the helm, the BMW team were able to pull off the blistering top time of 8:02.844 to kick things off.
On the other hand, with what wound up being an omen of things to come, the Nissan team, consisting of Fraga, Hizal and Kokubun, heavy hitters from the Nations Cup, put in a poor performance. Despite being a team made up of the three regional champions, their final qualifying time netted them seventh place on the grid.
■Top 6 Qualifying
Taking place just before the title race, the second qualifier saw each of the teams shaving some time off of their runs, with only the Porsche unable to make it under the eight minute and two seconds mark.
Mere moments before time was up, BMW once again displayed their unmatched prowess on the track.
Rubilar (FT_NicoR), a true BMW maestro, finished with a staggering top time of 8:00.067. In the Lexus, Japan’s ace driver Kanata Kawakami (Kawakana222) managed to shave a good second and a half off of their time, earning them second place.
Rubilar (FT_NicoR), who wasn’t quite able to drive at his peak during the Nations Cup Regional Final, wasn’t able to hold in his elation here, pumping his fist triumphantly in the air in celebration.
A lot of the teams on the front line opted for soft tyres with their ace driver behind the wheel for the first stint, hoping it would give them a chance to break away from the rest and build a lead. However, the BMW team, starting in pole position, decided to go for a different strategy. Foreseeing a close scrap on the cards from the get-go, they decided to entrust the first stint to battle hardened Japanese driver Takuya Okamoto (okasan_joestar07), on medium tyres.
Their race would hinge on whether they could protect their place at the top before making it to the Northern Loop.
And so, the one-hour race finally got started, with Okamoto (okasan_joestar07) leading the charge in the BMW as they all rushed to the first corner.
Those that were below second place, even with soft tyres, weren’t quite able to match the pace of Okamoto (okasan_joestar07) in his medium tyres. But Kawakami (Kawakana222), in the Lexus, decided to make a move and managed to work his way in on the inside of Okamoto (okasan_joestar07) at the Bilstein Curve, moving up to first place.
Following that, Japan’s Takuma Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20), in the Subaru, tried to apply some pressure to steal second, but Okamoto (okasan_joestar07) was able to keep his cool and protect the position as they headed into the Northern Loop.
Kokubun’s (Akagi_1942mi) impatience started to manifest early in the opening lap. He ended up driving onto a kerb and landing him a heavy time penalty of almost six seconds as he entered the Northern Loop. The Nissan team, who were favourites to take home the title, continued to unravel.
At this point Kawakami (Kawakana222) still held the lead.
With Okamoto (okasan_joestar07) in second, but unable to pick up the pace in his medium tyres, Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20), Rayan Derrouiche (RC_Miura) and Tatsuya Sugawara (blackbeauty-79), all in soft tyres, refused to let up.
And then at Aremburg, an accident that sent a shockwave throughout the venue.
Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20), in the Subaru, went in heavy on the throttle as he tried to slip in on the inside of Okamoto (okasan_joestar07), causing him to shove the BMW - a calamitous accident at the hands of a fellow countryman.
While the Subaru, with only one wheel winding up in the dirt, was very quickly able to get back on track and hang in the race, the BMW, way off course, rapidly sank down to last place. The Subaru, employing the same tyre strategy as the Lexus, was clearly in a rush to try and keep up.
However, the Subaru driver in their soft tyres should have known better than to try and overtake someone in medium tyres on that turn with such different braking points.
After the race, Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20) rushed over to the BMW team with an apology.
“It’s an unfortunate but very real part of racing. Don’t worry about it.” Replied BMW’s ace driver Rubilar. And Okamoto tried to console Miyazono too, saying “I was trying to take the curve on the inside line, in tyres without much grip. Of course, it’s a shame how things turned out, but it was kind of inevitable”. Not wanting to hold a grudge, the drivers both showed great sportsmanship.
Seeing the BMW and Subaru vanish out of sight, Derrouiche (RC_Miura), in the Toyota, and Sugawara, (blackbeauty-79) in the Porsche, felt emboldened to intensify their pursuit of Kawakami (Kawakana222).
In order to shake off that hefty six second penalty, Nissan’s Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi) had to slow down, dropping the team further down the ranks into twelfth place.
On the second lap, blazing a trail, Derrouiche (RC_Miura) finally found himself hot on the heels of Kawakami (Kawakana222).
On the third lap, on the approach to Aremburg, Derrouiche (RC_Miura) was able to overtake Kawakami (Kawakana222) with great finesse. However, Kawakami (Kawakana222), eager to take back his lead, stayed very close behind.
The third lap also saw a change of drivers for the Nissan team, with Mikail Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING) taking over from Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi). Unfortunately, this didn’t bring a change to their luck. Attempting to overtake the Aston Martin in eighth place didn’t end well, with the unlucky Nissan spinning out on to the dirt.
The leading cars, Toyota, Lexus and Porsche, made their first pit stop, in that order. Toyota brought in Agustín Cajal (ORMA_Aspicito), and Lexus switched in Vincent Rigaud (Oscaro_SkyPikmin). Both of them opting for hard tyres.
On lap four, Cajal (ORMA_Aspicito) overran the kerb at Adernauer-Forst. Bounding off of the concrete wall meant that he didn’t lose much time, but it was enough of a fault for Rigaud (Oscaro_SkyPikmin) to pass by in his Lexus and take the lead.
In contrast to the Toyota and the Lexus, who both opted for hard tyres for the second stint, the Porsche, now with medium tyres and Thiago Gonzaga (FT_Solid) at the helm, started to pick up the pace.
Still in the fourth lap, the Toyota went out a little bit wide at Pflanzgarten, catching some gravel, and made an opening for the Porsche to steal second place. And, not ready to stop there, the Porsche managed to catch up to and overtake the leading Lexus just before the chicane in the Grand Prix course on the fifth lap.
Gonzaga’s (FT_Solid) time at the top was short lived, however.
On the fifth lap, the final round of pit stops took place. Sérgio Fonseca (serfonseca) took over for Porsche, switching to hard tyres. We had Tyrell Meadows (GT_Academy2013) coming in for Lexus and Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) for Toyota, both changing to medium tyres. And for the final stint, Nissan finally brought out Fraga (IOF_RACING17) in soft tyres and a pretty good position, having risen to fourth place.
Meadows (GT_Academy2013) started to close in on the Porsche, with Fonseca (serfonseca) unable to break away in his hard tyres.
On the sixth lap, on the Döttinger Höhestraight, Meadows streaked past the Porsche, securing first place.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Porsche now also had the third-place group hot on their tail.
Fraga (IOF_RACING17), with some masterful driving in soft tyres and running light with minimal fuel, managed to catch up to the second-place cluster of drivers comprised of Yamanaka (yamado_racing38), Yoshiharu Imai (legacy0193) and Shogo Yoshida (gilles_honda_v12).
On the fateful final lap there was a shocking shuffle of positions on the Döttinger Höhe straight.
Making great use of Fonseca (serfonseca) and Fraga’s (IOF_RACING17) slipstream, Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) was able to shoot past into second place.
While the Nissan, Aston Martin and Mitsubishi were still in the running not far behind, Nissan’s cursed run suddenly hit a new low.
It seems Fraga (IOF_RACING17) had been a little overzealous with his fuel limiting strategy. Starved of gasoline, the Nissan began to lose speed after crossing the Bilstein Bridge. With their sluggish performance in the qualifier, Kokubun’s shortcut penalty, Hizal’s spin, and now Fraga’s fuel miscalculation, it was a bitter end to a grueling race for the team.
Back at the finish line, the Lexus team were the first to cross.
All three drivers on the team put out a peerless performance and were the only team that managed to maintain a great racing pace throughout.
Ace driver Kawakami (Kawakana222), who for a long time had trouble grabbing a title until the Online Series, making him somewhat of an ‘uncrowned king’, was finally was able to show his true full potential on the ultimate stage in this World Final.
In the end, the third driver on hard tyres wound up being the deciding factor for many teams. Although many of the third drivers messed up, Rigaud’s (Oscaro_SkyPikmin) follow up to Kawakami’s (Kawakana222) great performance left Meadows (GT_Academy2013) in a strong position as their final driver to focus on smoothly bringing the title home.
There was no doubt that Meadows (GT_Academy2013), a veteran who had previously faced off against Japan’s best, such as Takahashi, Tomibayashi and Taneichi, at the 2016 FIA Gran Turismo Championship Pre-Season Test in London, had earned his place at the top this time through his continued effort to be the very best.
In second place was the Toyota team. Although all eyes were on Yamanaka (yamado_racing38), who took part in the Nations Cup, it was actually Derrouiche (RC_Miura) who really stole the show.
“I was faster on the Grand Prix course, but there was no way for me to match Derrouiche’s speed on the Northern Loop. He was just too quick!” said Yamanaka about his teammate.
Of course, speed alone won’t win a race, but it definitely added a touch of drama to this team battle.
And, going against the expectations of many, the Aston Martin finished in third place. A definite dark horse, they had hardly stood out by the midpoint of the race. But, like the Lexus team, all three drivers put on stellar performances, making no major mistakes, getting them a place on the podium.
Manufacturer Series Final - Race Results
Winner: Team Lexus
■ France’s Vincent Rigaud (Oscaro_SkyPikmin), the second driver:
"To come out on top in this first World Final, it just feels great!
In the end, our strong tyre strategy and faultless run is what got us here. We decided to go into the second stint on hard tyres, since the other teams opted for hard tyres in the final stint during the qualifiers.
In the final race, the Porsche in first place using hard tyres started to lose pace just as expected. With us in medium tyres in that final run, we were able to pass the Porsche and steal first place."
■ USA’s Tyrell Meadows (GT_Academy2013), the final driver:
"I’m thrilled to have made it here.
Even before arriving, I was pretty confident that we had a strong team. I knew Kawakami would get a great time in the qualifier. He’s the kind of teammate you can really rely on.
This time round, we all succeeded in our respective roles, forming a great tyre strategy, staying stable throughout the race and avoiding any mishaps.
To sum it up, I’m ecstatic!
I’ve played Gran Turismo for over twenty years now, but I never imagined it would have brought me here."
■ Japan’s Kanata Kawakami (Kawakana222), the initial driver:
"I’m truly delighted that we could walk away from the first ever Manufacturer Series as champions.
Before arriving in Monaco, I had a different strategy in mind, but once we all came together here, we formed this new strategy. In the end it paid off and I think our tactic is what lead to our victory.
I’m incredibly grateful to my teammates."