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NATIONS CUP
The Top 16 Players in the World Vie for the Ultimate Online Racing Crown!
2020 Series Nations Cup - World Finals
2020/12/20

For many people around the world, 2020 will be a year to forget. Not so for Takuma Miyazono as the Japanese driver became the new FIA Gran Turismo Championships Nations Cup Champion. His victory capped an incredible year for the xx-year-old who won the ‘World Tour 2020 – Sydney’ event back in February before the global pandemic called a halt to live events. With the racing purely online, Miyazono continued where he left off winning the Asian Nations Cup Online Series before winning the Asia-Oceania Regional Finals. World Finals week proved no less successful as he took victory in the Toyota GR Supra GT Cup support event before helping claim the world title for Subaru in the Manufacturer Series. His thrilling Nations Cup victory completes an unprecedented Gran Turismo grand slam for the master strategist.
The marquee Nations Cup World Finals took place on the final day of the FIA GT Championships 2020. The fastest 16 players in the world from 10 countries had qualified through Online Regional Finals and now gathered online again to battle for supremacy.

The format for this year’s competition was slightly revised because of the global pandemic. The players competed in three total races via video, with the starting grids for each contest determined by a 10-minute qualifying round. Points were awarded to the top 10 finishers, with the Grand Final offering double points. Also, the season’s winning drivers were granted World Tour points that counted toward this championship, making Coque López of Spain (winner of the EMEA Region) and Brazil’s Adriano Carrazza (winner of the Americas Region) front runners from the start. But it was Takuma Miyazono (winner of the Asia-Oceania Region and ‘World Tour 2020 – Sydney’) who topped the points table going into the event and looked hard to beat with his victories in the preceding GR Supra GT Cup and Manufacturer Series.

Race 1

The first contest of the day was a 13-lap race around the scenic Fuji International Speedway in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan. The featured car was the exciting new Toyota GR Yaris – the real version of which featured in the stunning GT studio that was home to the World Finals broadcast. With the drivers required to run at least one lap on both medium- and hard-compound tires, it meant that pit strategy would come into play early. Taking pole position for Race 1 was Miyazono of Japan (Kerokkuma_ej20), who bested Italians Giorgio Mangano (Williams_Gio) in P2 and Valerio Gallo (Williams_BRacer) in P3 in qualifying. Starting in 4th position was Rick Kevelham of the Netherlands (HRG_RK23).

The rolling start invited a mad rush to the first corner, as Miyazono led the pack through the hard right-hander, fending off an early challenge from Mangano. With the top seven cars on medium-compound tires, they pushed and nudged each other through most every section of the track. EMEA Regional Champion - Spain’s Coque López (Williams_Coque14) - had a dismal qualifying, starting in 8th position but also serving a one-second qualifying penalty for ignoring track limits on the first lap of the race.

At the start of the Lap 5, Mangano overtook Miyazono to take the race lead, out-braking him at Turn 1. Then it was the other Italian, Gallo, who followed suit around the Turn 6 hairpin taking possession of 2nd place. The first pit stops came at the halfway point of the race, but the top seven positions, all on medium-compound tires, elected to stay out.

On Lap 7, many of the front-runners, including Miyazono, but excluding Mangano and Gallo, dove into the pits to change from the medium-compound tires to the softs. 4th-place Angel Inostroza of Chile (YASHEAT_Loyrot) made a crucial mental error when he mistakenly put on another set of medium-compound Michelins instead of the hards, which would require him to make an extra pit stop, all but putting him out of contention. On Lap 8, the two race-leading Italians came in for their hard-compound tires, returning to the track in their previous positions. So, with four laps remaining, it was a sprint to the finish with Mangano leading Gallo and Miyazono, followed by Kevelham and Japan’s Ryota Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi) in P5. Inostroza decided to play the role of party crasher as he diced with the race leaders, electing not to take his required pit stop early. He bumped Mangano, challenging him for the lead, and then traded paint with Gallo and Miyazono, who were no doubt pleading for the Chilean to get out of the way. But from everyone else’s vantage point, Inostroza was having too much fun to pit now.

On Lap 11, Gallo claimed the lead on the front straight, getting even with his countryman at the entry of Turn 1 and squeezing past Mangano at the exit, but he went wide through the Panasonic Corner (Turn 16), letting Mangano back in front and allowing Inostroza to drive up to the side of him. The three cars appeared stuck together as they streaked through the front straight at 240 km/h.

Lap 12 saw Tomoaki Yamanaka of Japan (yamado_racing38), who had worked his way up to P4, take it to his fellow countryman Miyazono through Turn 13, claiming 3rd place. The move seemed to have affected Miyazono’s psyche, as both Serrano and Kevelham got past him on the next corner, dropping him to 7th. With Inostroza finally pitting, Gallo overtook Mangano for the race lead, but Yamanaka was still lurking in the shadows, being the only one in the top six to be on the quicker medium tires. However, when the Japanese driver tried passing Mangano through the 300R (Turn 9), he was unceremoniously forced off his racing line, slowing his pace enough to let Serrano and Kevelham through. In the blink of an eye, Yamanaka had fallen from 2nd to 5th place.

The race ended with Gallo crossing the finish line first, followed by Mangano, Serrano, and Kevelham, while Canadian Andrew Brooks (PX7-Deafsun), who started at P9, amazingly worked his way to a spot in the top five. Miyazono finished a disappointing 9th, scoring only two points.

Rank Driver Time
1 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer 24:25.080
2 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio +01.316
3 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE +01.453
4 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 +01.774
5 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun +02.124
6 Coque López Williams_Coque14 +02.597
7 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 +02.825
8 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi +03.339
9 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 +03.514
10 Cody Nikola Latkovski Nik_Makozi +03.729
11 Ádám Tápai TRL_ADAM18 +03.831
12 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI +07.355
13 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 +07.414
14 Patrik Blazsán Williams_Fuvaros +08.347
15 Baptiste Beauvois PRiMA_TsuTsu +09.125
16 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +16.900

Race 2

Harsh conditions awaited the drivers for Race 2, as rain fell on the challenging Tokyo Expressway - East Outer Loop road course. Because of the slippery conditions, the drivers would run solely on the wet tires, meaning there would be no pit stops required in this 13-lap contest. The featured car here was the Porsche 911 RSR, and any professional driver will tell you that dealing with a rear-engine/rear-drive race car in the wet was a tricky proposition. Japan’s Takuma Miyazono, after a disappointing 9th-place finish in the first race, showed his grit by posting the fastest qualifying time and grabbing pole position. Alongside him on the front row was 18-year-old Jose Serrano of Spain, followed by Ryota Kokubun (Japan) and Patrik Blazsán of Hungary (Williams_Fuvaros).

The action started from the get-go as Serrano drafted Miyazono on the long front straight at 260 km/h to grab the lead.

Kokubun, seeing a bit of daylight, also shot past him, but Miyazono fought back reclaiming 2nd place on the following corner. As every car in the field fought for position, Canadian Andrew Brooks moved up two positions to 5th place and challenged Kokubun for P4 on Lap 2. Meanwhile Miyazono, drafting Serrano, reclaimed the lead through the front straight. As the cars made their way around the slippery track, many of them sliding and scraping the wall, Miyazono, Serrano, and Blazsán had opened up a 2.0-second lead on the field.

Charging hard from the bottom of the pack and grabbing 5th place was Brazilian Lucas Bonelli (TGT_BONELLI), who had shown impressive speed all weekend. He found himself in the middle of a frenzied battle with Kokubun, Brooks, and Gallo, who were clumped together in P4 through P7. Coque López of Spain joined the party on Lap 4, climbing up from P11 to challenge Bonelli for 7th place.
By this time of the race, the tactic of Miyazono and Serrano became clear: they were working together by drafting each other on the long straights to pull away from the rest of the field. The collaboration looked to be working as they had opened up a 4.5-second lead by lap 7. Meanwhile, France’s Baptiste Beauvois (PRiMA_TsuTsu) and Chile’s Angel Inostroza joined the mid-pack battle of Gallo, Bonelli, and López.

At the halfway point of the race, the top half of the field settled into three distinct groups: Miyazono and Serrano up front; Blazsán and Kokubun several seconds back; and Gallo, Brooks, Beauvois, Bonelli, and López several second behind them. The running order remained largely unchanged for an extended time as the drivers struggled for grip, being careful not to lose control of their respective Porsches, but that didn’t mean they weren’t battling.

By Lap 11, it was clear that Miyazono or Serrano was going to win the race, as they were five seconds clear of the pack. The anticipation of when and how they would attack each other, after working together for most of the race, was approaching boiling point.

That moment came at the start of the final lap when Serrano tucked his yellow Porsche into the slipstream of Miyazono’s white 911 and nosed ahead for the lead. All he needed to do now was stay in front, but Miyazono had other plans. Although the Japanese driver challenged the Spaniard through a number of turns, he was in fact saving big move for the final corner. As the cars approached the hairpin right-hander, Miyazono moved to the outside as Serrano adamantly defended his racing line, but then Miyazono dove to the inside of the corner at the last possible moment, forcing Serrano wide at the exit.

The quicker racing line accounted for Miyazono to pull ahead at the exit. Although Serrano desperately tried to chase down Miyazono’s white Porsche on the front straight, the Japanese driver held him off—barely—taking the victory by a mere 0.022 seconds. Still, with the 2nd-place finish, Serrano had a piece of the overall lead with Miyazono at 25 points each as they went into the final and deciding race.

Rank Driver Time
1 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 28:54.273
2 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE +00.034
3 Patrik Blazsán Williams_Fuvaros +03.072
4 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi +06.318
5 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun +07.284
6 Coque López Williams_Coque14 +09.294
7 Baptiste Beauvois PRiMA_TsuTsu +09.330
8 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI +11.046
9 Cody Nikola Latkovski Nik_Makozi +12.241
10 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer +12.288
11 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio +14.093
12 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +14.162
13 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 +18.389
14 Ádám Tápai TRL_ADAM18 +19.246
15 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 +20.322
16 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 +20.884

Grand Final

For the people who thought the 2020 Nations Cup title was all but decided after Race 2, well, they had to reconsider when the two points leaders, Takuma Miyazono (Japan) and Jose Serrano (Spain), had a disappointing qualifying session in the stylish Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept, managing only a 7th- and 8th-place starting position respectively for the Grand Final. With the points worth double in this race around the legendary Sarthe race circuit, home to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the drivers who felt they were out of contention suddenly found that they still had a shot of claiming the 2020 title. Among them was Italian Valerio Gallo, who posted a blistering lap time of 3:52.300, to claim pole position, joined on the first row with Japan’s Ryota Kokubun.

As with every Grand Final, pit strategy would play a vital role as the drivers were required to run on the soft-, medium- and hard-compound tires for at least one lap and refuel when necessary because one tank would not last the 10 required laps around this race circuit.

The cars got away cleanly from the standing start, heading into the Dunlop Curve fighting for position. Americas Regional Champion Adriano Carrazza of Brazil used the melee and his soft-compound Michelins to his advantage by moving past both 3rd-place Tomoaki Yamanaka of Japan and Kokubun to grab 2nd place, while Miyazono snuck past Rick Kevelham (HRG_RK23) of the Netherlands to claim 6th. The running order settled halfway through the opening lap, as race-leader Gallo and P2 Carrazza, the only two on soft-compound tires, looked to break away from the rest of the field.

At the start of Lap 2, those running on the hard-compound rubber came in after fulfilling their one-lap stint. Then, the battle for 3rd place was on, as Miyazono and regular front-running Australian driver, Cody Nikola Latkovski (Nik_Makozi), drove up to the back of Italy’s Giorgio Mangano and Kokubun through the Indianapolis corner.

On the Mulsanne Straight, with the cars traveling at 280 km/h, Latkovski shot in front of Kokubun and Mangano, gaining two positions in one move. Miyazono did one better, jumping in front of Kokubun, Mangano, and Latkovski in one shot to take P3. The next lap, Gallo, Carrazza, and Miyazono ducked into the pits, as the two race leaders went on the mediums while Miyazono opted for the softs. The race lead now belonged to Latkovski, followed by Mangano and Kokubun, while Gallo, Carrazza, and Miyazono returned to the track in P7, P8 and P9, respectively. After half a lap, Latkovski and Mangano exchanged position, drafting one another to build on their lead to 1.5 seconds.

Lap 5 saw a nice skirmish mid-pack as Spain’s Coque López passed a duet of cars to claim 6th place, leaving Kokubun and Kevelham in his rearview mirror. Meanwhile, the other Spaniard and points co-leader, Jose Serrano, sat in 11th, not being able to find a groove, his championship hopes all but lost. The two race leaders, Latkovski and Mangano, made their first pit stops, both switching to the hard-compound tire, putting Gallo and Miyazono back atop the leaderboard.

On Lap 6, Kevelham, on the soft-compound tires, got by Latkovski on the hards, to claim 4th place, but he still had a long way to go to catch 3rd-place Carrazza who enjoyed a 7.0-second lead over the Dutchman. At the start of Lap 7, 11 of the 16 cars pitted, once again reshuffling the running order, but the top remained unchanged with Gallo and Miyazono leading the way. Miyazono then set up Gallo through Indianapolis and overtook him in a picture-perfect pass. Behind them, Carrazza was assessed a penalty for exceeding track lines, dropping him out of contention and leaving Kokubun, Latkovski, Yamanaka, and Mangano to fight it out for P3. Despite the fact that they all ran on soft-compound tires, Miyazono and Gallo were too far ahead at this point, making the Grand Final a two-horse race to the finish.

As expected, Gallo made his move at Indianapolis, drafting Miyazono’s white race car and taking an outside line for the pass.

Miyazono followed closely, looking for an opening through the last corners of the race (FINAL08), but Gallo provided none, taking his lead all the way to the finish line for the win. He was followed in by Miyazono, Latkovski, and Yamanaka.

The victory catapulted the Italian to 2nd in the points standing, but the Nations Cup championship and, the entire weekend, belonged to Takuma Miyazono, who completed a 2020 World Finals Triple Crown by winning the GR Supra GT Cup, Manufacturer Series, and the Nations Cup in the three days of racing. Rounding out the championship podium was Gallo and Japan’s Ryota Kokubun who took 3rd place after placing 5th in the Grand Final race.

Miyazono said after the race: “I really didn’t think I could win. I’m happy, but when I crossed the finish line, I was in 2nd place and unsure if I won the championship at that time. As for winning all the events this weekend, I didn’t realise I had done this until a few moments ago, and I really can’t believe it. With my win at Sydney, I had a good flow throughout the year, ending with this World Finals, but I still feel I have to keep improving, so I plan on coming back even stronger next year.”

Rank Driver Time
1 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer 40:10.038
2 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 +00.622
3 Cody Nikola Latkovski Nik_Makozi +05.280
4 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 +06.164
5 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi +07.453
6 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI +07.590
7 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio +07.733
8 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun +08.418
9 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 +08.561
10 Ádám Tápai TRL_ADAM18 +09.471
11 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +09.812
12 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE +09.972
13 Patrik Blazsán Williams_Fuvaros +14.070
14 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 +14.428
15 Coque López Williams_Coque14 +20.345
16 Baptiste Beauvois PRiMA_TsuTsu DNS

2020 Series Nations Cup - World Finals Results

Rank Driver World Tour Points Race 1 Race 2 Grand Final Total Points
1 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 11 2 12 20 45
2 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer 5 12 1 24 42
3 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi 7 3 7 12 29
4 Cody Nikola Latkovski Nik_Makozi 7 1 2 16 26
5 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE 7 8 10 0 25
6 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 6 4 0 14 24
7 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun 6 6 6 6 24
8 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio 1 10 0 8 19
9 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI 5 0 3 10 18
10 Coque López Williams_Coque14 8 5 5 0 18
11 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 8 0 0 4 12
12 Patrik Blazsán Williams_Fuvaros 3 0 8 0 11
13 Baptiste Beauvois PRiMA_TsuTsu 6 0 4 0 10
14 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 2 7 0 0 9
15 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot 7 0 0 0 7
16 Ádám Tápai TRL_ADAM18 4 0 0 2 6
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