The Cream Rises to the Top in an Intense All-round Battle
Gran Turismo World Series 2022 Manufacturers Cup - Round 3
For Round 3 of the Gran Turismo World Series 2022, 11 teams—including Gran Turismo World Series partners Genesis, Mazda and Toyota—headed virtually to Switzerland, where the drivers would face off remotely in the Manufacturers Cup for the final time this year. Unfortunately for this event, Jaguar was unable to participate.
Coming into this Round, Subaru sat atop the championship leaderboard with 10 points, followed by Toyota with seven, while AMG and Mazda were locked in the No. 3 spot with five points each. With Round 3 representing the final event of the year before the World Finals later this month, the other teams needed to make a strong move or their hopes for taking the Series title were over. Would any of them succeed? The answer awaited in the lush green woodlands of rural Switzerland, at Gran Turismo’s original race track, Deep Forest Raceway.
Round 3: Deep Forest Raceway
As with the other Rounds in 2022, except the World Series Showdown and World Finals, only one driver represented each manufacturer. For this race, every driver was required to run at least one lap of the total of 16 on both the medium and soft compound tires, so the right (or wrong) pitstop strategy would play a large part in the outcome.
The day began with a surprise as the Volkswagen Beetle Gr.3, with Seiya Suzuki (V1_CRV-KRT86) behind the steering wheel, set the fastest time in qualifying, claiming pole position. In the No. 2 slot was Lucas Bonelli’s AMG GT3 (TGT_BONELLI), while the Toyota GR Supra of Ryota Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi) sat in 3rd. Surprisingly, points leader Subaru, with rookie sensation Kylian Drumont driving, took up the final row in P11.
The top four cars, except Kokubun in the Supra, started the race on soft-compound tires. The customary strategy for the cars in front was to start with the softest and fastest Michelins and run away from the pack, but Kokubun obviously had other plans. What did the veteran Japanese driver have up his sleeve? We would soon find out.
After a clean rolling start, the top portion of the grid remained consistent through lap 1; however, there was plenty of bumping and nudging occurring mid-pack between the Genesis X GR3, driven by Nicolas Romero (ERM_NicoRD); the Porsche 911 RSR of Angel Inostroza (YASHEAT_Loyrot) and the Giorgio Mangano’s MAZDA RX-VISION GT3 CONCEPT (Williams_Gio).
On lap 2, Toyota’s strategy seemed to be going awry, as the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Mehdi Hafidi (V1_Mehdi59) passed the GR Supra on the back straight, claiming P3. By the next lap, the top two cars—the VW and AMG—had built up a 2.5-second lead on the rest of the field.
On lap 4, Bonelli’s AMG overtook Suzuki’s VW through the hairpin, wresting away P1 from the Japanese driver in the German machine. They remained stuck together through the entirety of the next lap, with Suzuki reclaiming the lead at the start of lap 6. As the two went at each other, Hafidi discreetly crept his Nissan GT-R closer to them, cutting their lead to less than a second. Feeling as if he was close enough, he pitted the following lap, switching to the medium-compound tires. Bonelli also came in. And with race leader Suzuki pitting the following lap, Toyota’s Kokubun found himself in the race lead, but he still needed to pit.
By lap 10, every driver had completed their required pitstops, and the cars had reshuffled themselves back to true running order, with the top three consisting of Nissan, Volkswagen and AMG. Sitting alone in 4th place was Toyota, and because the GR Supra was the only car in the top four running on soft-compound tires, it was gradually cutting into the lead of the race leaders. With six laps to go, could Kokubun make up the 4.0-second gap and pull a rabbit out of his hat?
Things looked good for the veteran Japanese driver, as he began taking off chunks of time every lap. On lap 12, he had moved up to 3rd, shrinking the gap between his Supra and the lead car to 1.5 seconds. By lap 14, with the skies darkening and the cars’ headlights shining brightly, that gap shrunk to less than a second. Race leaders, Bonelli in the AMG and Suzuki in the VW, no doubt felt like lambs being stalked by a hungry lion, as the soft-spoken Kokubun kept prowling. The lion finally pounced on its prey on the penultimate lap, claiming the overall lead on the front straight. And with the Toyota Supra on the soft-compound tires, Bonelli and Suzuki had no chance of catching him. Ryota Kokubun’s daring strategy, combined with excellent driving, had paid off.
With the win, Team Toyota made it two in a row, lifting itself in a tie for the championship lead alongside Team Subaru (10 points), that failed to score any points this round. The 2nd-place finish of Lucas Bonelli kept AMG in 3rd place (seven points), while Seiya Suzuki’s P3 moved Volkswagen into 6th place with Genesis with two points apiece.
Said race winner Ryota Kokubun after the race: “Honestly, I was hoping to just get on the podium, so I’m very happy about the 1st-place result. I did struggle about which tires to start the race with, but with the cars all battling each other in front of me, I was able to drive calmly at my own pace. I feel this contributed to the end result today. It was fun battling with these great drivers. Our team has been able to put together a couple of good performances, and I want to keep this going and make the most of our potential at the World Finals.”
Following the broadcast of Round 3 of the Nations Cup on Sunday, November 13th, the final stop for the Gran Turismo World Series 2022 will be the World Finals taking place 25-27 November in Monaco with a live broadcast each day.
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 Manufacturers Cup - Round 3
|Rank||Manufacturer / Drivers||Time|
|1||Toyota Ryota Kokubun||23:06.044|
|2||Mercedes-AMG Lucas Bonelli||+ 01.573|
|3||Volkswagen Seiya Suzuki||+ 02.033|
|4||Nissan Mehdi Hafidi||+ 04.609|
|5||Porsche Angel Inostroza||+ 08.600|
|6||Mitsubishi Arthur Mosso||+ 08.633|
|7||Chevrolet Adriano Carrazza||+ 09.565|
|8||Genesis Nicolas Romero||+ 09.803|
|9||Subaru Kylian Drumont||+ 10.516|
|10||Mazda Giorgio Mangano||+ 15.922|
|11||BMW Erik Cases Vazquez||+ 19.237|
|12||Jaguar - - -||DNS|