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Day One of the Nations Cup at the "World Finals 2019 - Monaco" Produces Shocking Results

MONTE CARLO, Monaco (November 22, 2019) – The 2019 Series comes to a climactic end this weekend in the glamorous principality of Monaco, home to the legendary Monaco Grand Prix and million-dollar yachts lining its world-famous harbor. The World Finals of the FIA Gran Turismo Championships officially got underway today, with four action-packed races—three Semi-final rounds and the Repechage—that had plenty of excitement and drama, including the shock of seeing last year’s champion and overall favorite Brazilian Igor Fraga eliminated from the championships in the first race.

With 36 racers representing 18 territories/countries competing for the title of 2019 World Champion, everything that these talented individuals had worked for all year was at stake in the four races today, followed by four races on Sunday, which includes the Grand Final. The Nations Cup World Finals represents the closing chapter of the FIA Gran Turismo Championship 2019 Series that consisted of five World Tour events held all around the globe: Paris, Germany, New York, Austria, and Tokyo. The results from these events decided who would compete here in Monaco.

The day started with a guest appearance of none other than six-time Formula 1 World Drivers Champion Lewis Hamilton taking questions from Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi and some of the top competitors. Afterward, Lewis participated in the Pro-Am race, teaming with Fraga and finishing a somewhat disappointing 3rd. Perhaps it was a harbinger of things to come for Fraga.

Nations Cup, Day One, Semi-Final A

With Lewis Hamilton looking on, this season’s fiercest rivalry was ready to take center stage as Mikail Hizal, of Germany, and defending champion Igor Fraga, of Brazil, sat one-two in the first row (determined by the previous day’s Qualifying session). The venue for the first Semi-final race was Austria’s Red Bull Ring in a 10-lap contest behind the wheels of the Toyota GR Supra Gr.3 racecar.

Mere seconds after the green flag dropped, the unimaginable happened. As the 12 Supras charged into Turn 1, with Hizal leading the pack, Fraga lost his composure and control of his vehicle when he drove over the outside curbing, sending his car into a spin and off the track. It was a shocking error from a seasoned veteran, instantly dropping the former champ from 2nd to 12th place.

One small bright spot was that Fraga still had nine laps remaining to try to get into position for the Repechage, which was awarded to the 4th- to 7th-place finishers. With only the top three positions winning an automatic bid for Sunday’s Qualifying session and races, and the next four places going to the Repechage Round, those who ended the race lower than 7th place are immediately eliminated…their weekend, and their season, over.

Fraga valiantly attempted to claw his way into competition, slowly working his way back up the grid. Understandably flustered by his early mistake, though, his blunders continued after, he was burdened by penalties. Was the pressure finally getting to him?

Hizal, for his part, settled into a comfortable rhythm, consistently keeping at least 1.3 seconds ahead of Rayan Derrouiche (France), who ran in 2nd, and Giorgio Mangano (Italy) in 3rd. For most of the race, these racers looked to maintain their standing, not taking any unnecessary risks. But then came Lap 9, when Mangano forced his Supra to the inside of Turn 3 and overtook Derrouiche to nab 2nd place. Derrouiche then nearly allowed 4th-place Adam Suswillo, of the U.K., by as they went wheel-to-wheel on the back straight; however, the Frenchman was able to hang onto his position.

Meanwhile, at the back of the field, Fraga managed to climb back to 9th thanks to an off by Kin Long Li (Hong Kong) and a penalty assessed to fellow countryman Adriano Carrazza (Brazil). However, Fraga just didn’t have enough to crack the top seven, ending the race in a devastating 10th place, his hopes of a back-to-back championship season dashed.

This round belonged to Hizal, who maintained his lead to finish in 1st, more than two seconds ahead of Mangano in 2nd and Derrouiche in 3rd. The next four finishers—Suswillo, Tatsuya Sugawara of Japan, Rick Kevelham of the Netherlands, and Hungary’s Benjamin Bader—were headed for the Repechage.

Rank Driver Time
1 Mikail Hizal TRL_LIGHTNING 15:04.477
2 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio +02.318
3 Rayan Derrouiche Veloce_Miura +02.801
4 Adam Suswillo Williams_Adam41 +03.149
5 Tatsuya Sugawara blackbeauty-79 +05.978
6 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 +06.185
7 Benjamin Bader ROH_Benito +09.141
8 Jose Brea PR1_JotaemeBrea +09.420
9 Adriano Carrazza UDI_Didico15 +09.755
10 Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17 +09.858
11 Kevan Pounder Turismo-Windfire +10.653
12 Kin Long Li KarS_0627 +20.128

Nations Cup, Day One, Semi-Final B

After the incredible turn of events in Semi-final A, the surprises continued in the second race of the 2019 FIA Gran Turismo Championships, a nine-lap battle on the fictional Dragon Trail - Seaside circuit. The competitors piloted identically-prepped versions of the Fittipaldi EF7 Vision Gran Turismo, a supercar conceived by two-time Formula 1 Drivers Champion and two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, and penned by legendary design house Pininfarina.

Sitting on the pole here was the top qualifier for Day One of the Nations Cup, Cody Nikola Latkovski of Australia, fresh from his big FIA Motorsport Games Digital Cup win earlier this month. As soon as the green flag dropped, Latkovski left the others in the dust, unperturbed by the turbulence that would soon occur behind him. Going into Turn 2, the first sharp corner, a late-braking contest broke out that immediately dropped Pierre Lenoir (France) from 9th to last.

The running order remained relatively unchanged until Lap 3 when Ryota Kokubun of Japan, coming off his historic win in Tokyo a month ago, Manuel Rodríguez (Spain), and Fabian Portilla (Chile) dove three wide into Turn 3, a corner on which it is almost impossible to maintain speed without the proper line. Kokubun on the outside was forced into the gravel and spun around, dropping him into last place.

Seconds later, 4th-place Simon Bishop (New Zealand) braked too late and shot off Turn 5 like a projectile, while Portilla, in hot pursuit, managed to recover in a dramatic powerslide over the curb. The chaos created an opening for Daniel Solis (USA), who started 11th on the grid, to get Rodríguez on the inside of Turn 9, jumping from 8th to 4th in the span of half a lap.

Meanwhile, Latkovski kept his comfortable lead, with France’s Baptiste Beauvois in pursuit. Nicolás Rubilar of Chile rounded out the top three. While those three were cruising, an intense battle was unfolding for 4th to 7th place. Solis, Rodríguez and Portilla engaged in a furious clash for positioning, allowing the back markers to work their way back into the race. On Lap 5, Italy’s Valerio Gallo was able to rope Portilla into a dramatic multi-corner duel, snaking past the Chilean to secure 6th. By Lap 6, Gallo had caught and passed Rodríguez to claim P5, but the fight was far from over, as it spilled into the last lap, where Rodríguez retook 5th place.

In the end, though, it was Latkovski, Beauvois and Rubilar finishing one-two-three, scoring an automatic ticket to Sunday’s event. The fate of Solis, Rodríguez and Gallo now rested on how they performed in the Repechage, while Ryota Kokubun became the second World Tour 2019 Champion to be sent home today.

Rank Driver Time
1 Cody Nikola Latkovski Nik_Makozi 14:04.780
2 Baptiste Beauvois Veloce_TsuTsu +02.490
3 Nicolás Rubilar FT_NicoR +04.439
4 Daniel Solis CAR_Lamb +11.985
5 Manuel Rodríguez TRL_MANURODRY +14.315
6 Valerio Gallo JIM_BRacer26 +14.663
7 Fabian Portilla CAR_McQueen +14.910
8 Mark Pinnell Turismo-lester +16.053
9 Pierre Lenoir RC_Snake91 +16.144
10 Markus Kononen maatu79 +17.807
11 Simon Bishop sidawg2 +23.783
12 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi +23.828

Nations Cup, Day One, Semi-Final C

After a brilliant performance in Qualifying, Jonathan Wong of Hong Kong started on pole for the third Semi-final race of the day, held at the tricky Autodrome Lago Maggiore GP course with the drivers piloting the powerful Pagani Zonda R. One of the fan favorites, Takuma Miyazono of Japan, sat in the number-two position, followed by Patrick Blazsán of Hungary.

As soon as the green flag dropped for the eight-lap contest, Canada’s Andrew Brooks went wide through the first corner and forced the 5th-place starter, Spain’s Coque Lopez, off the track, dropping him to 8th place, while Brooks himself fell to the very back of the pack, down more than ten seconds from the leader, essentially ending his championship hopes for this year.

Meanwhile, Miyazono jumped all over race-leader Wong and completed a smooth pass through Turn 5 to grab the overall lead, but Wong was determined to get him back and stayed planted on the Japanese driver’s rear bumper for the remainder of the race.

Adam Wilk of Australia, who started 12th, worked his way up five spots in a span of two laps to 7th place, and was looking to gain even more ground. However, two laps later, it was the hard-charging López who performed a phoenix-like resurrection to overtake Wilk for 7th place. The next two laps saw the running order remain unchanged with Miyazono in the lead, Wong in hot pursuit, followed by Blazsán and Salvatore Maraglino (Italy).

Lap 6 saw a duel between Blazsán and Maraglino, with each driver fighting hard to grab that all-important 3rd place that would assure them a ticket to Sunday’s Top 12 Qualifying and subsequent races, but Blazsán successfully held him off. With the cars reaching 270 km/h on the front straight, Wong went for a last-ditch effort to take the overall lead back from Miyazono on Lap 7 and Lap 8, but it was clear he was being cautious not to make a critical driving error that could take him out of the championship (you can hardly blame him after seeing what had happened to Fraga earlier in the day).

Wong continued to push, putting pressure on the Japanese driver without making any reckless moves, but Miyazono remained cool and composed, finishing the race in flawless fashion. Wong came next, followed by Blazsán, ensuring all three drivers to advance to the next round. As for P4 through P7—Mathew Simmons (Australia), Wilk and López—they now had to fight for survival in the Repechage.

Rank Driver Time
1 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 15:12.296
2 Jonathan Wong CAR_Saika +00.566
3 Patrik Blazsán Williams_Fuvaros +01.518
4 Salvatore Maraglino JIM_Pirata666_ +02.124
5 Mathew Simmons MINT_Matt +07.707
6 Adam Wilk Adam_2167 +12.241
7 Coque López Williams_Coque14 +13.105
8 Alonso Regalado PX7-Jara +13.505
9 Ben Chou Gmotor_SBen +14.841
10 Anthony Felix FT_Ant +16.666
11 Ádám Tápai TRL_ADAM18 +17.950
12 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun +29.616

Nations Cup, Day One, Repechage

The Repechage represents the last-chance opportunity for those who failed to podium in the first three races and advance to Sunday’s events. Anyone not finishing in the top three here will join the nine others in going home early.

American Daniel Solis and his Subaru WRX rally car sat on pole for the nine-lap contest around WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which had just been introduced to Gran Turismo Sport. The players were in their favorite Gr.B all-wheel-drive rally racecars. The race started with a massive attempt by Britain’s Adam Suswillo’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo to pry away the lead from Solis, but his Subaru protected its driving line, managing to stay inside for Turn 3 and maintain the lead. On Lap 2, Suswillo finally got past Solis through Turn 4, only to give it right back to the American… It was turning out to be an epic duel as neither driver seemed ready to go home quite yet. At the end of Lap 2, it was looking like it was going to be a four-horse race consisting of Solis, Suswillo, Manuel Rodrgíuez of Spain and his Acura NSX, followed by Italy’s Salvatore Maraglino in his Nissan GT-R rally car, as they led the 12-car field through the scenic 12-turn track that includes the famous Corkscrew S-curve.

Then things began to happen on Lap 3, when Suswillo misjudged his braking for the Turn 2 hairpin, allowing Rodríguez and Maraglino through, instantly dropping the Brit to 4th place. A lap later Rodríguez was assessed a costly two-second penalty for contact with another car that struck him down to 6th place. All the while, Coque López and his Ford Focus rally car were quietly working their way up the field, going from his dead-last 12th-place starting position to 4th by the end of Lap 4. Could he do the seemingly impossible by coming from his dead-last position to claim a top-three finish to move onto Sunday…

Lap 5 and Lap 6 saw the battle for the lead continue as Maraglino continued to hound Solis, filling his mirrors through every part of the track, but the American rattled; however, disaster seemingly struck when the blue Subaru was assessed a half-second penalty on Lap 6, but the American miraculously was able to hold off the hard-charging Italian and retain his lead. The next lap López playing the role of the phoenix again, rose from his ashes to pass Suswillo who had inherited 3rd place from Rodríguez after the Spaniard was assessed a huge two-second penalty for colliding with another car. Now it was the other Spaniard, López, who held the all-important 3rd-place spot. The desire and tenacity of the "Lopex," who refused to be denied, jumping nine spots in nine laps, was a thing to behold.

When the checkered flag dropped, Solis, in a brilliant display of skill and consistency, went from pole to win, holding off Maraglino and Lopez, who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively, giving the three drivers a ticket to the Big Sunday showdown.

López, who was deservedly chosen as the Michelin Driver of the Day, said afterwards: “It was difficult, but I knew I had to be patient. The Ford Focus is a very good car, and even starting in last place, I knew I had a chance because the track was Laguna Seca. I knew not to go wide through the corners, and if I drove consistently, I had a chance. I wanted to win this race, but by taking 3rd, at least I’m racing on Sunday. I’m happy the race took place at Laguna Seca because it is an amazing track, one of my favorites, ever since I watched MotoGP events here, and I’d like to thank everyone for allowing me to be one of the first people to drive this track in Gran Turismo Sport.”

Rank Driver Time
1 Daniel Solis CAR_Lamb 14:03.857
2 Salvatore Maraglino JIM_Pirata666_ +00.559
3 Coque López Williams_Coque14 +01.039
4 Adam Suswillo Williams_Adam41 +02.278
5 Tatsuya Sugawara blackbeauty-79 +02.877
6 Valerio Gallo JIM_BRacer26 +02.997
7 Adam Wilk Adam_2167 +03.530
8 Manuel Rodríguez TRL_MANURODRY +04.199
9 Fabian Portilla CAR_McQueen +07.045
10 Mathew Simmons MINT_Matt +08.365
11 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 +09.160
12 Benjamin Bader ROH_Benito +12.250
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