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Glory, Resilience, Luck and Heartbreak - The 2021 Nations Cup World Finals Had It All
2021 Series Nations Cup - World Finals

Tokyo, Japan (December 5, 2021) – While hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo Sport players battled in weekly races in two Online Seasons of the 2021 FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships, a revised format for the top-tier of competitors ran in parallel. Each contestant participated remotely from around the world over four World Series Rounds and the mid-season World Series Showdown. The accrued World Series points carried into the all-important Nations Cup World Finals, the last event of the 2021 Series, that was broadcast this past weekend.

For the finals, 32 of the fastest drivers in the world were assembled and divided into three groups to compete in three separate semi-final races based on region. With 12 points awarded for the winner, 10 points for 2nd place, 8 points for 3rd place, and so on, the goal of each driver was to secure qualification for the Grand Final and maximize their points haul. With points worth double for the Grand Final, even players starting from the back of the pack had a mathematical chance to claim the 2021 Nations Cup trophy. But they would need to muster all their skill and will to topple favorite Valerio Gallo of Italy whose speed and consistency this Series saw him enter the fray with a six-point advantage over nearest-rival Jose Serrano from Spain.

Semi-final A, Asia-Oceania Region: Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit

The first Nations Cup race of the day was an eight-lap affair with the Mazda Roadster Touring Car at Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit in Australia, home to the Bathurst 1000. Defending champion Takuma Miyazono of Japan (Kerokkuma_ej20) laid down the fastest time in qualifying among the Asia-Oceania group, earning pole position for this race. He was followed by countryman Ryota Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi) and Australia’s Guy Barbara (PX7-Twitchy) and Andrew Lee (PX7-AmazingHour).

With only the top five finishers moving onto the Grand Final, all 10 cars went at each other early. Miyazono led the field through Turn 1, while Lee snuck past Barbara to move into 3rd place. On the next lap, Kanata Kawakami of Japan (SG_Kawakana) squeezed past Barbara through Quarry Corner to claim P4, followed by Lee overtaking Kokubun in a daring move to the inside coming out Turn 4 to move into 2nd place.

It was evident that Lee had brought his “A game” because he was showing remarkable quickness in the first few laps of the race. On lap 3, he caught and passed Miyazono on Conrod Straight to take the race lead. At the halfway point of the race, Positions 1 through 10 remained tightly grouped, with no more than a half second separating each car. Lee led the pack, with Miyazono, Kokubun, Kawakami and Barbara in pursuit.

Lap 5 saw Japan’s Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) aggressively force his way to the inside of Barbara through the Turn 4 hairpin, hitting the Australian’s Roadster and sending it to last place. The race stewards were not impressed with Yamanaka’s tactics, assessing him a heavy 2.0-second penalty that ultimately dropped him out of contention and ended his hopes of following up his Manufacturer Series title with Nations Cup glory.

The action climaxed at the end of lap 7, when the top seven cars bumped each other through Turn 22 and 23, vying for position for the last lap of the race. They continued battling all the way to the start of lap 8, with Kokubun, Kawakami and Tatsuhiko Kato of Japan (Tatsukt), lining up three-wide to grab that all-important 5th-place spot. Kawakami won the battle, but making the most of the mayhem was Kiwi Matt McEwen (AE_McEwen) who snuck into 3rd place, after starting in 5th, with less than a lap remaining. On the Conrod Straight, Takuma Miyazono overtook Lee, to take the race lead. A thrilling finish saw Lee try to go round the outside on the last corner, but he ran wide and as Miyazono took the checkered flag Matt McEwen snuck by the Australian on the line to take second from Lee. Kanata Kawakami and Ryota Kokubun rounded out the top five and qualified for the Grand Final.

Rank Driver Time
1 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 18:40.165
2 Matthew McEwen AE_McEwen +00.310
3 Andrew Lee PX7-AmazingHour +00.312
4 Kanata Kawakami SG_Kawakana +00.415
5 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi +00.501
6 Tatshuhiko Kato Tatsukt +00.599
7 Jonathan Wong saika159- +01.731
8 Soma Iseri Arrow71sr +02.418
9 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 +03.825
10 Guy Barbara PX7-Twitchy +06.073

Semi-final B: Autodromo Nazionale Monza

The second race of the day featured the largest starting grid of the three semi-final contests with 13 players representing the Europe/Middle East/Africa Region, with the top six advancing to the Grand Final. They were strapped in the Gran Turismo F1500T-A formula race car for a 15-lap battle around Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Each driver was required to run at least one lap on both hard- and medium-compound tires, so pit strategy was in play. Fastest in qualifying was Hungary’s Patrik Blazsán (RSZe_Fuvaros8), earning pole position for the race. He was followed by Jose Serrano of Spain (PR1_JOSETE), Valerio Gallo of Italy (Williams_BRacer) and previously unknown Kylian Drumont of France (eMONACO_Kylian19K).

Everyone except Spain’s Coque López (coqueIopez14) in P12 opted to start on the hard-compound tires. His plan was to climb his way up the field, get to the front as soon as possible and build a big buffer in clean air before changing to the hard-compound tires. It was a daring strategy, one that could reap huge rewards if all went well. The action started right away as Serrano and Gallo jumped all over Blazsán on the first corner, looking to take over the race lead. Serrano got through, but Gallo got stuck behind the Hungarian. Meanwhile Belgian Quinten Jehoul (ERM_Quinten) was forced into the gravel by Nikita Moysov of the Czech Republic (ERM_Nick), dropping him from 5th place to last, as López moved up to P5 in the mayhem. Moysov was assessed a harsh 3.0-second penalty for the move, knocking him out of contention.

The end of lap 1 saw a mass migration into the pits as virtually everyone on the hard-compound tires went for the medium-compound ones. López, who stayed out and claimed the race lead, hoped to build on his lead before his required pitstop, as his strategy was playing out perfectly.

Midway through lap 4, López built up a lead of 20 seconds over Serrano and Gallo. Italian Giorgio Mangano (Williams_Gio) moved up to P4 after starting in 10th place. The race became scrappy on lap 5, when the cars from P8 through P12 battled through the Curve di Lesmo. They slashed and bumped each relentlessly, keeping the stewards busy assessing penalties to Nicolas Romero of Spain (ERM_NicoRD), Moysov and Germany’s Miroslaw Kravchenko (V1_MK01).

The start of lap 7 saw Frenchman Baptiste Beauvois (R8G_TSUTSU) pass Mangano for 4th place, while López built his lead up to 21 seconds. Mangano grabbed his position back a lap later as the cars reached 315 km/h on the straights. As expected, López dove into pitlane at the end of lap 14, with a 21-second advantage, but would it be enough to maintain the race lead when he came back out? The answer was no. He came out just ahead of Serrano and Gallo, but they blasted past him as he built up to speed.

The final lap saw an intense duel between the two championship points leaders, Gallo and Serrano, as the Italian wrestled the lead away from the Spaniard through Curva Biassono. Serrano remained glued to the back of Gallo’s car, planning to draft him on the back straight and make an all-out pass through Curva Parabolica in the final section of the track. Gallo, well aware of the Spaniard’s plan, blocked the inside line on the back straight, forcing Serrano to the outside. The Spaniard did get ahead for a moment, but because he took the long way around the final corner, Gallo retook the lead onto the front straight. Not giving up, Jose Serrano mounted a final all-out charge, but it fell just short, crossing the finish a mere four-hundredths of a second behind Valerio Gallo! Coque López, after a brilliant drive and daring pit strategy, finished 3rd, with Baptiste Beauvois, Giorgio Mangano and Patrik Blazsán punching their tickets to the big dance.

Rank Driver Time
1 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer 22:00.850
2 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE +00.046
3 Coque López coqueIopez14 +00.796
4 Baptiste Beauvois R8G_TSUTSU +02.281
5 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio +02.567
6 Patrik Blazsán RSZe_Fuvaros8 +03.817
7 Nicolas Romero ERM_NicoRD +07.712
8 Nikita Moysov ERM_Nick +08.666
9 Arie Rodrigues Haydar eMONACO_Arie64 +14.219
10 Quinten Jehoul ERM_Quinten +14.606
11 Kylian Drumont eMONACO_Kylian19 +16.317
12 Ádám Tápai TFz_Adam18) +16.946
13 Miroslaw Kravchenko V1_MK01 +21.700

Semi-final C: Blue Moon Bay Speedway - Infield A

The starting grid for the semi-final race for the Americas Region consisted of nine players, with the top five going to the Grand Final. Positioned on pole for the 17-lap race around Blue Moon Bay Speedway - Infield A was Lucas Bonelli of Brazil (TGT_BONELLI), followed by Chilean driver Angel Inostroza (YASHEAT_Loyrot) in the number-two spot and another Brazilian, Igor Fraga (IOF_RACING17), starting in P3. The drivers were all required to run at least one lap on medium- and hard-compound tires, which meant they had to pit at least once.

The Ford GT race cars left the starting line cleanly, with no serious passing maneuvers, but Canadian Andrew Brooks (PX7-Deafsun) ran into trouble understeering through Turn 4 and smashing into the wall, sending him to the back of the field. Moving in the opposite direction was American Daniel Solis (PX7-Lamb) who climbed up to 6th place after starting last. Solis and Brazilian João Pessôa (GRID_JoaoSof) came into the pits at the end of the first lap to take on the faster medium-compound tires right away. By lap 3, the top four drivers—Bonelli, Inostroza, Fraga and Guatemala’s Juan Hernandez (TX3_Kangreti)—began breaking away from the pack, building a 3.4-second cushion over the P5 car of Brooks. At the end of lap 4, the leaders made their pitstops, all going to the medium-compound tires, then returning to the track in the same order.

At the halfway point of the race, the top four cars extended their lead to more than six seconds, with Brazil’s Adriano Carrazza (KoA_Didico15), Brooks and the U.S.’s Randall Haywood (R8G_Originals) duking it out for that fifth and final spot for the Grand Final. On lap 11, Brooks made a daring passing attempt to the outside of Carrazza through the long Turn 1 sweeper, getting his Ford GT in front of the Brazilian, but Carrazza took the position right back through the Turn 5 hairpin. It was then that the lead-and-follow tactics of the top four cars seemed to be coming to an end as Inostroza began applying pressure on Bonelli for the race lead.

During the battle for 5th place between Carrazza and Brooks, Haywood waited patiently in the slipstream for someone to make a mistake. That moment came around Turn 6, when Brooks dropped a wheel onto the infield grass, slowing him and Carrazza down enough for Haywood to get by. Brooks was quick to gather up his car, getting by the Brazilian and looking to even the score with the American, which he did on the next lap.

On the penultimate lap, Inostroza finally made his move for the race lead, going to the inside of Bonelli trying to out-brake him into the Turn 4 hairpin. He did get by, but only momentarily, as Bonelli kept the inside line for the next corner. This forced Inostroza to the outside of Turn 5 that allowed Bonelli, and Fraga, to sneak past him, dropping him to a disappointing 3rd place. The race ended with Lucas Bonelli crossing the finish line first, followed by Igor Fraga, Angel Inostroza, Juan Hernandez and Andrew Brooks, who took the final spot in the Grand Final.

Rank Driver Time
1 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI 20.13.995
2 Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17 +00.148
3 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +00.675
4 Juan Hernández TX3_Kangreti +00.827
5 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun +12.216
6 Randall Haywood R8G_Originals +12.425
7 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 +12.919
8 João Cláudio Santos Pessôa GRID_JoaoSof +17.321
9 Daniel Solis PX7-Lamb +22.686

Grand Final: Dragon Trail – Seaside

It all came down to this one race. The last 16 drivers standing battled for 22 laps around the challenging Dragon Trail – Seaside Circuit to decide who was going home as the 2021 Nations Cup champion. Because points were worth double for this contest, most every player in the field had a mathematical chance to win, but the odds-on favorite was still Valerio Gallo of Italy, who had been dominant in 2021. Gallo entered the Grand Final on 30 points with his main rival, Spain’s Jose Serrano, eight behind. And it was these two who qualified fastest, putting their Ford GT LM Spec II Test Car on the first row, with Serrano in pole position. The Americas champion, Lucas Bonelli of Brazil started in P3, with Japan’s Takuma Miyazono in 4th. As with every Nations Cup Grand Final, the drivers were required to run at least one lap on soft-, medium-, and hard-compound tires, meaning they would need to make two pitstops.

As soon as the green lights flashed, it was evident that it was going to be an all-out war, as each driver looked to improve their positions through Turn 1. It was Kanata Kawakami of Japan who made the biggest move, getting past countryman Takuma Miyazono on the slower hard-compound tires, and blowing by Bonelli, also on the hards, on the outside after Turn 3. Then Gallo made a textbook pass on Serrano to take the race lead through the hairpin. The cars settled into formation halfway through the maiden lap with the top five cars on the medium-compound tires—Gallo, Serrano, Kawakami, Juan Hernandez of Guatemala, and Andrew Lee of Australia.

On the second lap, Kawakami showed he came to race when he overtook Serrano for 2nd place through the hairpin corner leading onto the front straight. At the end of this lap, the first pack of drivers made their pitstops, including defending champ Miyazono, Spain’s Coque López and the 2018 champion Igor Fraga of Brazil, who had started in a disappointing P14. While Miyazono and Fraga swapped for the fast soft-compound tires, López opted to save his for the end of the race, going with the mediums.

By the start of lap 4, Gallo increased his lead to 1.2 seconds, while less than a gap of one second separated the P2 to P5 cars of Kawakami, Serrano, Hernandez and Andrew Lee of Australia. Then disaster struck Kawakami on the following lap when he overcooked his Ford GT through Turn 4’s right-hander, getting the rear end loose and hitting the inside wall. He was fortunate to only drop four places, but his chances of a series championship were dashed.

All the while Miyazono was quietly shaving time off the lead, as he led the pack of drivers with one pitstop under their belt. Also, quietly climbing up the ranks was Frenchman Baptiste Beauvois, who started dead last and was now in 10th place. On lap 7, the leaders came into the pits, with Gallo and Hernandez opting to switch to the soft-compound tires, while Serrano and Lee went with the mediums. Only time would tell which one was adopting the correct strategy. When they returned to track, although Mangano had the official race lead because he had yet to pit, the real race leader was Miyazono, with Gallo 1.9 seconds behind. In a surprise, Japan’s Ryota Kokubun, who was also running on the soft-compound tires, moved into 4th with Fraga and Serrano behind him.

On lap 9, Gallo showed why he was the one to beat this year, as he masterfully passed Miyazono on the outside of Turn 11 to take the race lead. At the end of lap 10, Miyazono made his final pitstop, going with the mediums and hoping they would last the rest of the way. This put Kokubun into 2nd place for the time being, followed by Hernandez, Mangano and Serrano. After a series of pitstops the following laps, Miyazono worked his way back up to 4th place, behind Gallo, Hernandez and Mangano, who still had one more pitstop left. Also of note was Beauvois, who had climbed to 6th place.

On lap 17, Gallo and 2nd-place Hernandez made their final pitstops to fulfill their stint on the slowest, hard-compound tires. They returned to the track in P2 and P4, respectively, (race leader Mangano still had one pitstop remaining), with Miyazono sandwiched between them, and Beauvois in 5th. With only four laps remaining, Gallo, on the hard-compound tires, had to summon all of his skills to hold off Miyazono on the mediums and Beauvois on the softs. The Nations Cup championship had come down to these three drivers!

Midway through lap 18, Miyazono passed Gallo through the Turn 11 hairpin, taking the race lead, but Miyazono made a driving error through the chicane, handing the lead right back to the Italian. As Miyazono desperately tried to get past Gallo, Beauvois began stalking the Japanese driver, looking for a way past. He found it on lap 19 right after the chicane, claiming P2 and his sights set on Gallo’s red Ford GT. Could the Frenchman accomplish the nearly impossible feat of going from last to first in the Grand Final?

Beauvois drafted Gallo and claimed P1 on the penultimate lap, but his soft-compound tires were worn, allowing Gallo to stay within striking distance throughout the lap. Perhaps it was due to the pressure applied by Gallo, but Beauvois briefly lost control of his car through the tricky chicane, giving Valerio Gallo the opening he needed to reclaim the lead. The Italian would not look back, taking the checkered flag and the 2021 Nations Cup championship in dominating fashion. He finished 18 points ahead of runner-up Jose Serrano, who came in 4th in this race, and 22 points in front of 3rd-place Takuma Miyazono. Baptiste Beauvois’ brilliant performance in the Grand Final earned him a 4th-place finish in the series.

Said Gallo after winning his first Nations Cup title, “It was a great Series, being able to take the Nations Cup title, winning four Rounds and the Olympic Virtual Series. Yes, it’s something magical. I really don’t know how to describe my feelings right now because I’ve been discovering myself all year. I want to dedicate this championship to all the people who supported me.”

Rank Driver Time
1 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer 35:19.026
2 Baptiste Beauvois R8G_TSUTSU +00.290
3 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 +01.775
4 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE +02.041
5 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI +02.991
6 Juan Hernández TX3_Kangreti +03.126
7 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +04.628
8 Patrik Blazsán RSZe_Fuvaros8 +04.851
9 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio +05.506
10 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi +07.536
11 Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17 +08.046
12 Matthew McEwen AE_McEwen +08.211
13 Coque López coqueIopez14 +09.473
14 Kanata Kawakami SG_Kawakana +11.742
15 Andrew Lee PX7-AmazingHour +15.916
16 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun +24.002

2021 Series Nations Cup - World Finals

Rank Driver Semi Final Group A Semi Final Group B Semi Final Group C Grand Final Total Points
1 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer - 12 - 24 36
2 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 12 - - 16 28
3 Baptiste Beauvois R8G_TSUTSU - 7 - 20 27
4 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE - 10 - 14 24
4 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI - - 12 12 24
6 Juan Hernández TX3_Kangreti - - 7 10 17
7 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot - - 8 8 16
8 Patrik Blazsán RSZe_Fuvaros8 - 5 - 6 11
9 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio - 6 - 4 10
9 Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17 - - 10 0 10
9 Matthew McEwen AE_McEwen 10 - - 0 10
12 Andrew Lee PX7-AmazingHour 8 - - 0 8
12 Ryota Kokubun Akagi_1942mi 6 - - 2 8
12 Coque López coqueIopez14 - 8 - 0 8
15 Kanata Kawakami SG_Kawakana 7 - - 0 7
16 Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun - - 6 0 6
17 Tatshuhiko Kato Tatsukt 5 - - - 5
17 Randall Haywood R8G_Originals - - 5 - 5
19 Jonathan Wong saika159- 4 - - - 4
19 Nicolas Romero ERM_NicoRD - 4 - - 4
19 Adriano Carrazza KoA_Didico15 - - 4 - 4
22 Soma Iseri Arrow71sr 3 - - - 3
22 Nikita Moysov ERM_Nick - 3 - - 3
22 João Cláudio Santos Pessôa GRID_JoaoSof - - 3 - 3
25 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 2 - - - 2
25 Arie Rodrigues Haydar eMONACO_Arie64 - 2 - - 2
25 Daniel Solis PX7-Lamb - - 2 - 2
28 Guy Barbara PX7-Twitchy 1 - - - 1
28 Quinten Jehoul ERM_Quinten - 1 - - 1
30 Kylian Drumont eMONACO_Kylian19 - 0 - - 0
30 Ádám Tápai TFz_Adam18 - 0 - - 0
30 Miroslaw Kravchenko V1_MK01 - 0 - - 0
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