An Unbelievable End to the First Race of 2022 Nations Cup
Gran Turismo World Series 2022 Nations Cup - Round 1
Tokyo, Japan (24 July 2022) – The world’s greatest online race spectacle returned this past weekend with Round 1 of the new-look Gran Turismo World Series. All eyes were on Sunday’s Nations Cup, which again consisted of a strong field of the 16 players from last year’s World Finals. This Round 1 race was the first to be held on the new Gran Turismo 7 platform, so it was highly anticipated for several reasons.
Last year saw Italy’s Valerio Gallo dominate, taking home his first world championship in convincing style. The question on everyone’s mind was, “Could anyone unseat him for the 2022 crown?” Well, we saw first-hand in this Series the competition will be fierce, and Gallo has his work cut out for him if he hopes to retain his Nations Cup championship.
Round 1: Watkins Glen Long Course
The venue for the first race of the Nations Cup event was the newly added Watkins Glen race track, located in New York state. The 16 drivers looked sharp in qualifying, with the Brazilian duo of Igor Fraga, the 2018 Nations Cup champion, and Luca Bonelli (TGT_BONELLI) starting at the top of the grid. Behind them were the always-quick Baptiste Beauvois (R8G_TSUTSU) of France and Hungary’s Patrik Blazsán (Fuvaros8). Row 3 consisted of Japan’s Kanata Kawakami (SG_Kawakana) and Giorgio Mangano of Italy (Williams_Gio). What surprised everyone was that defending champ, Valerio Gallo (William_BRacer) of Italy, found himself way back in the pack, in P14.
With all drivers piloting similar Suzuki Vision Gran Turismo Gr.3 race cars, but bathed in their country’s liveries, they were required to complete at least one lap of the total of 15 on at least two types of the three available tyres—hard-, medium- and soft-compound—so strategy was sure to play a major role in the outcome.
When the lights turned green, Bonelli, on the soft-compound tyres, got a tremendous start, zipping past Fraga, who started on the hards, through Turn 1. Blazsán got the best of Beauvois, moving into 3rd place. Matthew McEwen of New Zealand (AE_McEwen) moved up two spots from 7th to 5th, while Ryota Kokubun of Japan (Akagi_1942mi) spun, dropping him to the bottom of the running order.
On lap 3, McEwen tried to force his way into 2nd place, but ended up driving off the track, resulting in a half-second penalty that ultimately dropped him to 7th place. The first pit stop of the contest came on lap 4 when McEwen swapped his soft-compound tyres for the hards. The following lap saw race leader Bonelli dive into the pits, along with the 3rd-place car of Australian Andrew Lee (Dstinct_Andrew) and 4th-place Blazsán. This changed the top three positions to Beauvois, Fraga and 2020 Nations Cup champion Takuma Miyazono of Japan (Kerokkuma_ej20).
Race leader Beauvois made his first pit stop on lap 8, going from the mediums to the soft compounds, while Miyazono, who was running in 3rd place, also came in making the same tyre change. The lead went back to Fraga, who hung onto it for a lap, until he made his pit stop, going with the medium-compound Michelins. Interestingly, he wasn’t going to use the least-durable yet quickest soft-compound tyres for this race.
By lap 10, defending champ Gallo had worked his way up to 6th place, moving up eight spots. He eventually found himself in 3rd, but it became evident that he had pushed his soft-compound tyres past their maximum. On the next lap, his pace fell, and he was passed by Fraga, Miyazono, and Blazsán, dropping him back to 6th place and ultimately out of the race.
With one lap to go, it looked to be the Flying Frenchman, Baptiste Beauvois, who was on his way to an easy victory as he had more than a 5-second lead on 2nd-place Bonelli... until the unthinkable happened: Beauvois spun his car through the Inner Loop chicane at the end of the back straight… on the final lap of the race! When the dust had cleared, he found himself way back in 8th place.
This costly error handed the race, and the three points for the win, to Lucas Bonelli who showed amazing speed from the start. Igor Fraga’s 2nd-place finish made it a 1-2 for Brazil, while Takuma Miyazono’s gutsy performance earned him the last spot on the podium.
“I’m very happy, and it was a great result because I didn’t practice much for this round. I had a good strategy and good pace with the soft-compound tyres. Because of a penalty, I ended up losing first position to 'Baguette' (Beauvois), and then unfortunately for him, he ended up making a mistake on the last lap through the chicane, and I ended up getting the win.”
All of the action can be watched on the official Gran Turismo YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/GranTurismoOfficial/ and more information is available on gran-turismo.com.
Gran Turismo World Series 2022 Nations Cup - Round 1
|1||Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI||26:47.613|
|2||Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17||+ 00.469|
|3||Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20||+ 05.041|
|4||Juan Hernández TX3_Kangreti||+ 05.766|
|5||Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio||+ 08.014|
|6||Jose Serrano TDG_JOSETE||+ 08.101|
|7||Patrik Blazsán ROH-Fuvaros88||+ 09.427|
|8||Baptiste Beauvois R8G_TSUTSU||+ 09.777|
|9||Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot||+ 12.053|
|10||Andrew Lee Dstinct_Andrew||+ 12.629|
|11||Coque López coquelopez14||+ 15.153|
|12||Kanata Kawakami SG_Kawakana||+ 15.619|
|13||Matthew McEwen AE_McEwen||+ 17.658|
|14||Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun||+ 18.367|
|15||Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi||+ 32.303|
|16||Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer||DNF|