Story 3: The Rivalries, Who to Watch at the World Series Showdown
Countdown to the Gran Turismo World Series Showdown 2023
Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, Liverpool and Manchester United, and in the world of motorsports, there have been too many to count. Every golden age of sports has been defined by its rivalries, and the Gran Turismo World Series (GTWS) has produced its fair share of them. In the early years, hard-fought battles between Igor Fraga and Mikail Hizal captured the attention of GTWS enthusiasts all over the world. Today, we are seeing rivalries develop among a different set of players, notably Coque López, Valerio Gallo, Angel Inostroza, Takuma Miyazono and current Olympic Esports Series Motor Sport champion Kylian Drumont.
For the upcoming GTWS Showdown in Amsterdam on August 11 and 12, two players will be noticeably absent in either competitions: Takuma Miyazono—who won't be able to participate in the Nations Cup due to scheduling conflicts—and Angel Inostroza—who is recovering from injuries. However, the others will be present and ready to battle. Here is some background on this year's favorites and their past experiences with each other. We added Inostroza to the mix because we’re sure he will be back with a vengeance as soon as he is able to.
In winning his first Nations Cup last season, he was involved in a last-lap controversy with Chile’s Angel Inostroza that nearly cost him the title. He said about that incident, “I quickly felt like my move was on the limit, and I went to say sorry to Angel, but he understood that it was a final-corner last-lap move in a World Championship. I was still waiting for the decision of the stewards before celebrating it.”
López did admit that the new Nations Cup format has lessened the rivalry aspect of the Gran Turismo World Series. “Of course, the three of us (Miyazono, Inostroza and himself) will be fast, but the new format in the Nations Cup will make it a team race, similar to the Manufacturers Cup, I feel. So, this year it will not be about one driver, but about the nation. Hopefully Spain will be fighting for the championship!”
In 2021, Valerio Gallo put on a masterclass of driving, taking the Nations Cup championship in dominating fashion, and then following it up by winning the very first Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event title. After an off year in 2022, everyone expects the popular Italian driver to come back in 2023 with a vengeance, starting with the World Series Showdown. When asked if he considered any of the other drivers as rivals, he said, “I don’t have a main rival personally, so this time, I plan to focus on perfecting my driving style, which is something I lacked last season. I’ll just try to beat my old me from last year, who was insecure and unhappy, and get back to my 2021 level. So, I suppose, my main rival is myself.”
Without paying any special attention to the other drivers, Gallo said that the World Series Showdown will be all about teamwork, strategy, tactics and not just about how fast you can go. “I do miss individual racing like in the past Nations Cup, but at the same time, the team format will be more complete, as normally drivers have to think about many little-but-needful aspects while racing. Personally, I’m a collaborative and motivating guy, so I can see myself fitting in this scenario, and I’m always up for new challenges, even though there’s some mystery in them.”
The unofficial rookie of the year last season was undoubtedly France’s Kylian Drumont. He burst onto the scene, winning last year’s World Series Showdown and came very close to taking the Nations Cup title at the World Finals. He was part of the Subaru team that won the Manufacturers Cup, not to mention the winner of this year’s Olympic Esports Motor Sport event, which makes him the favorite heading into the World Series Showdown in Amsterdam.
Naturally, for the newcomer, most every veteran in the field could be considered a rival. “Because there is no individual competition, I consider our main rivals in the Nations Cup to be Spain, Brazil and Italy because these teams will have several champions like Coque López, Igor Fraga and Valerio Gallo, and the other players who make up these teams are all as fast as they are. In the Manufacturers Cup, I think our main rivals will be similar to those of last year: Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and one manufacturer who will be making a comeback, BMW. Because the teams have drivers with experience and speed, and the trios are very close in terms of performance. It looks promising for the show!”
Bursting onto the scene in 2021, the Chilean driver impressed right away, showing incredible speed at the World Series Showdown that year and following it up with a win in Round 2 the following year. Last year, he nearly won the Nations Cup title, but the aforementioned last-lap incident at the World Final kept him from hoisting the champion’s trophy. In the Manufacturers Series/Cup, he has helped Team Porsche stay in consistent contention, with a 3rd place finish overall last season.
About the incident at the World Finals, Inostroza said it was unfortunate how it all played out, but that he has since moved on. “What happened there was that the three of us (López, Miyazono and himself) wanted to take the win, and it ended up as a three-wide clash trying to take first position. Nothing else to say about that. But the live display only showed the incident between the three of us, not the one from the last corner with only Coque and me.”
As for the rivalry, he believes that there is a fiercely competitive relationship among all the drivers. “There’s probably a good sense of rivalry between the three of us, but at the same time, this new format will not allow individual racing like we had in the World Finals last year. Anyways, the rivalry aspect will be there forever and not only between us three, but with every other driver we have to face on the virtual tracks.”
Unfortunately, Inostroza will not be competing in the World Series Showdown as he is recovering from an injury. We wish him a quick recovery and look forward to seeing him in the driver’s seat soon.
The 2020 Nations Cup and Manufacturer Cup champion needs little introduction to the GTWS faithful. The super-quick Japanese driver always manages to find himself contesting for the win in most every race he enters. While his Subaru team took home the Manufacturers Cup last season—the second in three years—he just missed winning his second Nations Cup, no thanks to the now-famous last-lap incident at last year’s World Final.
“Because of my tire situation, it was difficult for me to go for the lead for most of the race, so I waited for a battle to break out among the leaders. When I saw Coque and Angel going at it in front of me, I felt it was the opportune time to jump to the inside and go for the win. Unfortunately, what happened afterwards didn’t work out to my advantage,” he said. “If I could do it over again, I would probably do the same thing, but I might brake a bit later so Angel couldn’t get to my inside.”
We won’t see Miyazono participating in the Nations Cup this year because of work conflicts, but he will be participating in the Manufacturers Cup with Team Subaru once again, where he hopes to win his third title in the series.