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NATIONS CUP
Best of the Best Clash in Vital Mid-season Showdown
2021 Series Nations Cup - World Series Showdown
2021/08/22

Tokyo, Japan (August 22, 2021) – Marking the halfway point of the 2021 FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships Series, the World Series Showdown kicked off yesterday with the Manufacturer Series. On the table today was the Nations Cup where the world’s best Gran Turismo Sport players vied for the title of the fastest GT driver in the world. Slotted between Season 1 and Season 2, the World Series Showdown Nations Cup featured a field of 30 total drivers, 14 from the FIA Certified Gran Turismo World Series Championships (Rounds 1 and 2) and 16 from Season 1 of the 2021 Online Series. They were divided into two groups of 15 for a pair of Semi-final races where the best eight finishers advanced to the Grand Final.

To ensure the Semi-final races were hotly contested, points were awarded to the top performers in each race to carry into the Grand Final where double points would decide the final standings. A fascinating day of racing was guaranteed with some new faces battling to claim a prized slot in the forthcoming World Series Rounds 3 and 4. Their promotion would, inevitably, mean that some well-established names might not make the next two Rounds and would have to qualify for the World Finals via Online Series - Season 2. The jeopardy was real and the three races would be a battle of nerve, speed and strategy.

Semi-final A: Tokyo Expressway – South Inner Loop

The first race was a 10-lap sprint around the tricky Tokyo Expressway - South Inner Loop. Because the drivers were required to run at least one lap on both the soft- and medium-compound tires, pitstop strategy would play a key role in determining the outcome. The fastest in qualifying was Jose Serrano of Spain (PR1_JOSETE) who registered a blistering lap time of 1:51.527 in the stunning Alpine Vision Gran Turismo race car. Lining up next to him in the No. 2 spot for the rolling-start was the always-quick Ryota Kokubun of Japan (Akagi_1942mi). Chilean Angel Inostroza (YASHEAT_Loyrot) and the Czech Republic’s Nikita Moysov (ERM_Nick) started in P3 and P4, respectively. Serrano, Kokubun, and Inostroza were the only drivers to start the race on the soft-compound tires. Their strategy was to build an insurmountable lead before having switching to the medium-compound tires.

After a clean start, it was Moysov who impressed all, as he showed remarkable speed on the medium-compound Michelins, overtaking Inostroza at the hairpin to grab 3rd place on lap 1. The following lap saw the race’s first pitstops when Marco Busnelli of Italy (V1_Markus) and France’s Baptiste Beauvois (R8G_TSUTSU) came in to switch to the soft-compound Michelins, opting to go to the quicker tires as soon as possible. Several other cars followed suit a lap later, including Moysov, who rejoined the race in 7th place.

On lap 4, Kokubun got past Serrano on the back straight after drafting him all race, taking over P1. Meanwhile, a tremendous battle was brewing for 5th place, as Frenchman Kévin Belic (Kelicful) was attempting to hold off a pack of drivers that included Australia’s Andrew Lee (PX7-AmazingHour) and Adriano Carrazza of Brazil (KoA_Didico15), who started the race in 10th place. Lee got past Belic on lap 5, followed immediately by Carrazza.

Lap 7 saw the top three cars—Serrano, Kokubun, and Inostroza—pit for the medium-compound tires with a 20-second-plus lead, but they failed to maintain their positions when returning to the track. Moysov had somehow gotten past them, and even enjoyed a 2.2-second lead over 2nd-place Serrano with three laps to go. With Moysov on the soft-compound tires and the drivers chasing him on mediums, catching the Czech driver was all but impossible unless he made a terrible driving error, which was extremely unlikely.

Therefore, the focus of the race shifted to the battle for 8th-place—the last position to qualify for the Grand Final—where Belic was doing all he could to preserve his ticket to the big show, but Belgian Quinten Jehoul (ERM_Quinten) and Beauvois had other ideas. On the last lap, Jehoul overtook both Belic and Beauvois to secure the all-important spot, while Carrazza picked off Inostroza at the Turn 7 hairpin to give him a 4th-place finish. But when it was all over, the spoils of victory for the first Semi-final contest went to newcomer Nikita Moysov, who turned in a flawless performance and executed an excellent pitstop strategy that scored him the maximum 8 points going into the Grand Final.

The 18-year-old Belgian Jehoul’s last-lap move on regular front-runner Baptiste Beauvois saw the distraught Frenchman not only out of the Grand Final, but also without a place on the grid for World Series 3 and 4 and having to qualify for the World Finals via Online Series 2. The same fate awaited Hungarian Patrik Blaszán (Fuvaros8), World Series points leader after Rounds 1 and 2, due to a disastrous race that left him down in an unlucky 13th.

Rank Driver Time
1 Nikita Moysov ERM_Nick 19:21.465
2 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE +01.676
3 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi +01.915
4 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 +02.367
5 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +02.463
6 Andrew Lee PX7-AmazingHour +02.875
7 Nicolas Romero ERM_NicoRD +03.407
8 Quinten Jehoul ERM_Quinten +06.090
9 Baptiste Beauvois R8G_TSUTSU +06.213
10 Saruthan Seelan tunablecoyote7 +07.090
11 Kévin Belic Kelicful +07.815
12 Matthew McEwen AE_McEwen +08.082
13 Patrik Blazsán Williams_Fuvaros +09.360
14 Marco Busnelli V1_Markus +12.246
15 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio +13.425

Semi-final B, Autodromo de Interlagos

The second Semi-final race, a 13-lap contest at Autodromo de Interlagos in Brazil, featured several familiar names at the top of the starting grid, including Olympic Virtual Series winner Valerio Gallo of Italy (Williams_BRacer), who grabbed pole position with a time of 1:27.784. The 2018 FIA Certified Gran Turismo Nations Cup Champion Igor Fraga (IOF_RACING17) representing Brazil sat in the No. 2 spot, while 2020 Nations Cup winner Takuya Miyazono of Japan (Kerokkuma_ej20) started in P3.

As with the previous race, the drivers were required to complete at least one lap on both the soft- and medium-compound tires. The top four spots on the grid opted to start with the soft-compound Michelins, hoping to break away from the pack early, but as we saw in the previous race, that strategy didn’t always pan out.

The action commenced with the spec Renault Sport R.S.01 GT3 racecars lined up in their standing-start positions. As soon as the green lights flashed, Fraga flew past Gallo to grab the lead going into the first corner. Japan’s Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) jumped all over Miyazono to take away 3rd place, while Spaniard Coque López (coquelopez14) passed Kanata Kawakami (SG_Kawakana) of Japan for 5th place.

All the drivers then settled into a rhythm, as the running order remained largely unchanged for the next several laps. But slowly, the top four cars on the soft-compound tires pulled away from the field, building a 4.5-second lead by lap 5.

On lap 6, a number of mid-pack cars made their first and only pitstops, switching to the soft-compound tires to chase down the leaders. This was followed by the pitstops of the race leaders on the following lap, Fraga and Gallo, while the Japanese duo of Yamanaka and Miyazono stayed out, hoping to squeeze another fast lap or two from their worn soft-compound tires.

Fraga and Gallo reclaimed P1 and P2 after the Japanese drivers made their pitstops on lap 8, returning the running order to: Fraga, Gallo, Yamanaka, and Miyazono, followed by López, who was now the only one in the top five on the soft-compound tires. He was 2.3 seconds behind... but gaining. With the cars reaching 270 km/h on the straights, the second half of the race commenced with Gallo glued to the rear of Fraga’s car, looking to pounce on the past Nations Cup Champion at the first opportunity, but that was a task much easier said than done because Fraga, who’s also an established real-life race driver, never gives up his position without a fight. Meanwhile, López continued to gain on the leaders, running only 1.3 seconds behind 4th-place Miyazono on lap 9.

At the start of lap 10, Gallo drafted Fraga on the front straight to overtake him before the entry to the first corner, no doubt leaving the Brazilian driver a bit surprised... and angry. Fraga seemed intent on returning the favor by clinging to the back of Gallo’s car, but he was running out of time with only three laps to go.

On lap 12, López caught the lead pack, but he couldn’t seem to find a way around 4th-place Miyazono. With his tires worn to their core, López then chose to play it safe and maintain his position, for his ticket to the Grand Final was secure. But not following this school of thought was Hungarian Ádám Tápai (TFz_Adam18) who blew past Brazil’s Lucas Bonelli on the last lap to take over 7th place.

In the end, it was Valerio Gallo who crossed the finish line first, less than a half-second in front of Fraga. It was clear that the first ever Olympic Virtual Series winner was on a mission to add the World Series Showdown title to his list of accomplishments in 2021, and he wasn’t about to let a past Nations Cup Champion get in his way.

Andrew Brooks’ 11th placed finish meant that the Canadian, who contested World Series Rounds 1 and 2, will not be seen in Rounds 3 and 4.

Rank Driver Time
1 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer 19:50.947
2 Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17 +00.314
3 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 +00.680
4 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 +00.987
5 Coque López coqueIopez14 +01.225
6 Kanata Kawakami SG_Kawakana +01.516
7 Ádám Tápai TFz_Adam18 +03.154
8 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI +03.382
9 Martin Marza eV_ORMA_Papo2514 +06.697
10 Randall Haywood R8G_Originals +06.704
11 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun +06.818
12 Tatsuya Sugawara blackbeauty-79 +09.469
13 Jonathan Wong saika159- +10.519
14 Mark Pinnell Turismo-lester +16.331
15 Daniel Solis PX7-Lamb +39.890

Grand Final, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

The Grand Final, where the fastest 16 drivers in the world vied the World Series Showdown title, was guaranteed to be an amazing show because less than a second separated the pole sitter, Igor Fraga of Brazil (IOF_RACING17), from the last spot on the grid, occupied by fellow Brazilian Lucas Bonelli (TGT_BONELLI). Japanese driver Ryota Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi) took the No. 2 spot, while Valerio Gallo of Italy (Williams_BRacer) and Jose Serrano of Spain (PR1_JOSETE) lined up behind him.

The venue was the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The drivers were required to complete at least one lap on the soft-, and medium-compound tires in their spec Ford Mark IV racecar during the 17-lap contest. And, as was the custom, the ones at the front of the grid opted to start the race on the softs, with the other took on the mediums. When the green lights flashed, Gallo snuck his red Italian-liveried classic American racecar to the inside of Kokubun’s white and red machine at La Source (Turn 1) to snatch away P2. At the last corner, dubbed the “Bus Stop” chicane, Fraga gave up the lead when he uncharacteristically went wide through the corner and allowed Gallo to get past.

By lap 5, the cars on the soft-compound tires began to create a gap from those on the mediums, as the field separated into two distinct groups. The top five runners were more than three seconds in front of the others, with Gallo leading the soft-compound group and Coque López of Spain (coqueIopez14) in front of those on the mediums in 6th place. Japan’s Takuma Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20) was the first one to pit on this lap, followed by Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38), also of Japan, and Bonelli. All three took fuel and switched to the soft-compound tires, hoping they would last for the remainder of the race. A lap later, several other cars dove into the pits, including López, who also took a full tank of fuel and switched to the soft-compound tires.

On lap 9, race leader Gallo made his required pitstops for his stint on the medium-compound tires, joined by Kokubun who was in 3rd place. They returned to the track in 4th and 5th place respectively, but the three cars in front of them had yet to make their pitstops. Therefore, the true race leader was revealed the following lap after Fraga, Serrano, and Ádám Tápai (TFz_Adam18) of Hungary pitted. As expected, Gallo took the lead, followed by Kokubun. Serrano found himself in 3rd place after Fraga made yet another driving error when he spun at the pit entrance, dropping to 4th place when he rejoined the action.

On the quicker soft-compound tires, Miyazono and López began making their move on lap 11, getting right behind the green 4th-place car of Fraga. The Spaniard easily passed the Brazilian at 250 km/h through Turn 16, while Miyazono kissed any chance of winning goodbye when he was assessed a 0.5-second penalty for exceeding track limits the following lap.

Meanwhile, López kept charging, chipping away at 3rd-place Serrano’s two-second lead. Also on the wick was Chilean Angel Inostroza (YASHEAT_Loyrot), setting fastest lap of the race and quickly gaining on Miyazono, who was running in 5th place after getting by Fraga on lap 14.

With two laps to go, it was a two-horse race, with Gallo and Kokubun increasing their lead over 3rd-place Serrano to two seconds. Kokubun made his big move on the Kemmel Straight, going for the pass through Les Combes (Turns 5 and 6) at 270 km/h, but Gallo gallantly defended his line, keeping the Japanese driver at bay. However, on the next lap, it was Gallo’s turn to make a mistake, going off at Les Combes and handing the lead, and the race, to Kokubun. Gallo’s error resulted in a furious three-way battle for the podium, as he, Serrano, and López swapped positions throughout the final lap. Serrano led the way through the final corner, and with the finish line in view, disaster struck. He ran out of fuel!

His car stalled, allowing both Gallo and López to get by. It was a heartbreaking way to end the day for the Spaniard, but his 4th-place finish in the race was enough to give him the final spot on the World Series Showdown podium. Standing high at the top of it was Ryota Kokubun of Japan, who scored 24 points for the Grand Final win, giving him 30 for the day. Valerio Gallo came in 2nd with 28, while López and Fraga, in 4th and 5th, respectively, rounded out the top five.

After the race, Kokubun said, “At first, I was really nervous, wondering if I could really win, and I wanted to win. And for me, everything fell into place this time, and I’m very happy about that. I’m a big fan of older cars like the Ford Mark IV that we drove in the Grand Final because they’re fun to drive. And I usually drive them when playing Gran Turismo, which makes me wonder if this was all some sort of fate.”

Rank Driver Time
1 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi 39.38.326
2 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer +03.422
3 Coque López coqueIopez14 +03.664
4 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE +03.704
5 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +10.933
6 Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17 +12.202
7 Ádám Tápai TFz_Adam18 +12.528
8 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 +12.576
9 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI +17.202
10 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 +22.203
11 Nicolas Romero ERM_NicoRD +22.378
12 Kanata Kawakami SG_Kawakana +25.382
13 Quinten Jehoul ERM_Quinten +29.317
14 Nikita Moysov ERM_Nick +31.172
15 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 +31.293
16 Andrew Lee PX7-AmazingHour +46.905

2021 Series Nations Cup - World Series Showdown
Result

Rank Driver Semi Final Group A Semi Final Group B Grand Final Total Points
1 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi 6 - 24 30
2 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer - 8 20 28
3 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE 7 - 14 21
4 Coque López coqueIopez14 - 4 16 20
5 Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17 - 7 10 17
6 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot 4 - 12 16
7 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 - 5 6 11
8 Ádám Tápai TFz_Adam18 - 2 8 10
9 Nikita Moysov ERM_Nick 8 - 0 8
10 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 5 - 2 7
11 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 - 6 0 6
12 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI - 1 4 5
13 Kanata Kawakami SG_Kawakana - 3 0 3
14 Andrew Lee PX7-AmazingHour 3 - 0 3
15 Nicolas Romero ERM_NicoRD 2 - 0 2
16 Quinten Jehoul ERM_Quinten 1 - 0 1
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