- MANUFACTURER SERIES
- The Fight for the 2020 Manufacturer Series Title Reaches its Climax!
- 2020 Series Manufacturer Series - World Finals
After an extraordinary 2020, a semblance of normality was resumed as some technological wizardry allowed 36 top players from around the world to gather virtually for the FIA Gran Turismo Championships Manufacturer Series World Finals. The competitors represented 12 manufacturers who qualified through the 30-round Online Series earlier this year and included official partners Toyota and Mazda.
With three drivers competing for each car maker, the teams were required to assign a different driver for each race, meaning that, unlike in years past, there would be no driver changes. Points were awarded according to finishing order, with the Grand Final offering double points. The team with the highest total at the end of the day would be crowned the 2020 Manufacturer Series Champion.
Before the action began, the air was buzzing with excitement at the top-level talent on show across the different teams making this a hard one to call. ‘World Tour 2020 – Sydney’ winner Takuma Miyazono of Japan was fresh from victory in the One-Make GR Supra GT Cup and teamed up with 2019 Nations Cup World Champion Mikail Hizal of Turkey (formerly of Germany) for Team Subaru. Brazil’s Igor Fraga, the 2018 Nations Cup champ, was in a strong Honda team alongside Japanese racer Shohei Sugimori and EMEA Online Series champion Valerio Gallo of Italy. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz featured two Online Series winners Cody Nikola Latkovski (AUS) and Lucas Bonelli (BRA) alongside EMEA runner-up Baptiste Beauvois (FRA).
The venue for the first contest was the fast Sardegna - Road Track - A, where each team was required to use both soft-compound and medium-compound tyres for at least one lap. Driving for Mercedes-Benz was form-driver Lucas Bonelli of Brazil (TGT_BONELLI). He set a blistering lap time in qualifying to grab the day’s first pole position. Team Mercedes-Benz decided to start on the medium-compound tyres, so he was sure to feel the heat early from Ford, Lamborghini, and Porsche, who lined up behind him on the soft-compound rubber.
The Brazilian successfully defended his lead at the start of the race, and at Turn 7, the Honda NSX, driven by Valerio Gallo of Italy (Williams_BRacer), snuck up on Australia’s Matt Simmons (MINT_Matt) in the Porsche 911 RSR to claim 4th place. Throughout the lap, Bonelli continued to fend off the attacks from Tatsuhiko Kato of Japan (Tatsukt) in the Ford GT and Australia’s Daniel Holland (MetalGear9493) in the Lamborghini Huracán; an impressive feat considering that the medium-compound Michelins were about 0.7 seconds slower per lap than the softs.
On Lap 3, the Ford GT finally got the best of the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3, and took the overall lead. Meanwhile, the Porsche 911 RSR got past the Honda NSX and stuck itself to the Lamborghini Huracán’s rear bumper. While the slower Mercedes-Benz held the rest of the field up, the Ford GT of Kato began to pull away. The following lap, Lamborghini made its way past the Mercedes-Benz, leaving Bonelli to fight off the hard-charging Porsche 911 RSR of Simmons. At the start of Lap 6, the Brazilian entered the pits to put on the soft-compound tyres. With his stints on the mediums now fulfilled, he planned to go the rest of the way on the quicker rubber.
Mid-way through Lap 6, a fierce battle ensued for 5th place when the Subaru WRX, driven by the USA’s Daniel Solis (PX7-Lamb), and the GT by Citroën piloted by Canada’s Andrew Brooks (PX7-Deafsun), charged after Simon Bishop of New Zealand (sidawg2) in the Toyota GR Supra. They went three-wide through Turn 8, with Citroën coming out on top, followed by the Subaru WRX, leaving Bishop to battle with the Audi of R8 LMS of Emily Jones (emreeree) of Australia, the only female driver in the field. At the start of Lap 7, as several cars dove into the pits, the Ford GT had built up a 1.7-second lead.
The following lap, the two front-runners, Team Ford and Team Lamborghini, came in for their final pit stops, handing the lead back to Mercedes-Benz. Now it was a sprint to the finish, with cars lined up in the following order: Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Lamborghini, Honda, Porsche, and BMW.
On Lap 9, the Porsche 911 RSR and Lamborghini Huracán went side by side and swapped paint, with neither driver willing to give an inch.
Holland in the Lamborghini repeatedly shut the door on his countryman, but Simmons was in no mood for playing nice and kept on him like a pesky mosquito. Joining the fray was the BMW M6 GT3 of Coque López (Williams_Coque14), on soft tyres, which drove up to the side of the 911 RSR. Then disaster struck Team Porsche as Simmons lost control of his car and spun off the track (RACE1_05). A second later Brooks followed suit, spinning his GT by Citroën off the track.
By Lap 12, the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 had opened up a four-second lead, leaving the Ford GT and Honda NSX to fight it out for 2nd place, which they did in grand style. Through every corner, Gallo attempted to out-brake his Honda NSX to get past the Ford GT, but Kato consistently shut him down, not willing to be intimidated by the Italian’s aggressive driving style. Meanwhile, an intense scuffle for 4th place ensued as López’s BMW M6 GT3 began hounding Holland’s Lamborghini Huracán.
As Bonelli took his Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 across the finish line first, Gallo tried every trick in the book to get past Kato, but he ran out of time and laps, allowing the Ford GT to claim 2nd place ahead of the Honda NSX.
|Rank||Manufacturer / Drivers||Time|
|1||Mercedes-Benz Lucas Bonelli||25:21.922|
|2||Ford Tatsuhiko Kato||+06.910|
|3||Honda Valerio Gallo||+06.994|
|4||BMW Coque López||+11.210|
|5||Lamborghini Daniel Holland||+10.013|
|6||Subaru Daniel Solis||+13.490|
|7||Toyota Simon Bishop||+14.249|
|8||Audi Emily Jones||+16.969|
|9||Volkswagen Donovan Parker||+17.798|
|10||Mazda Fabian Portilla||+17.804|
|11||Porsche Matt Simmons||+18.031|
|12||Citroën Andrew Brooks||+25.672|
Unlike the previous year, the finishing order of the previous contest did not decide the starting grid of this one, but instead was determined by a separate qualifying session. At the front of the line for the 17-lap race at the famous Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, was the Toyota GR Supra driven by Brazilian Adriano Carrazza (KoA_Didico15). Joining him on the front row was Peru’s Alonso Regalado (TX3_jara) in the GT by Citroën, who like Carrazza, decided to start on the soft compound tyres, hoping to pull away from the rest of the field, all on mediums.
As soon as the green flag dropped, drama unfolded in the middle of the pack as the Lamborghini Huracán driven by the USA’s Manuel Troncoso (MATE_mata-boy) overtook the BMW M6 GT3 of his countryman Randall Haywood (TX3_Originals). The action intensified on Lap 2 when Haywood decided to get aggressive, taking a risky racing line into Turn 2, called Remus, and making it pay off as he shot past both the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 of Australia’s Cody Nikola Latkovski (Nik_Makozi) and the Huracán at the exit.
As the cars in the middle and bottom of the pack fought for position, the top three teams of Toyota, Citroën, and Subaru opened up a 2.5-second lead.
Lap 4 saw a heated skirmish between the Porsche 911 RSR of the USA’s Tristan Bayless (roadbeef), the Honda NSX of Japanese driver Shohei Sugimori (s-shohei_), the Volkswagen Beetle of his fellow countryman Soma Iseri (Arrow71sr) and the Mazda RX-Vision GT3 driven by Jay Wong of Australia (FSR_DB007). The four cars touched a few times as they tried to get the best of each other. By Lap 6, the two front-runners, Team Toyota and Team Citroën, both running the soft-compound tyres, had pulled away by four seconds over the Subaru WRX of Japan’s Takuma Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20), who ran on the mediums.
On the following lap, a fleet of race cars dove into the pits, including Miyazono’s Subaru WRX and Haywood’s BMW M6 to exchange their medium-compound tyres for the softs, in hopes of taking them to the finish. The next lap invited even more cars into the pit lane, including 2nd-place Regalado and his GT by Citroën, who opted to fulfil his stint on the mediums. The following lap, race-leader Carrazza in the Toyota came in with a 14.0-second cushion, allowing it to return to the track still holding onto P1 over the GT by Citroën.
With seven laps left to run, the question was, could Miyazono on the soft tyres catch the race leaders on the slower medium-compound tyres? Half of the answer revealed itself on Lap 12 when the Subaru WRX overtook the GT by Citroën to move up to 2nd place. Although Miyazono still had Carrazza left to catch, the Brazilian wasn’t going to make it easy, pushing his Supra hard and squeezing every bit of performance from his medium-compound Michelins. On Lap 14, Latkovski’s Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 overtook the BMW M6 GT3 of Haywood in a daring manoeuvre for 4th place.
By this time, the Subaru WRX was riding the rear bumper of the Toyota GR Supra (RACE2_05) and was looking to get by at the first opportunity.
Miyazono challenged Carrazza into every corner, but the Brazilian successfully fended him off, until that is, on the final corner of the final lap Miyazono made a bold move to squeeze his WRX past the Toyota and claim the chequered flag.
With the win, Subaru accrued a total of 17 points, giving it a strong chance of claiming its first Manufacturer Series title, but leading the way was Mercedes-Benz with 19 points after Latkovski’s impressive 4th-place finish.
|Rank||Manufacturer / Drivers||Time|
|1||Subaru Takuma Miyazono||25:26.650|
|2||Toyota Adriano Carrazza||+00.153|
|3||Citroën Alonso Regalado||+02.221|
|4||Mercedes-Benz Cody Nikola Latkovski||+02.310|
|5||BMW Randall Haywood||+02.589|
|6||Lamborghini Manuel Troncoso||+03.367|
|7||Audi Vinicius Neto||+06.527|
|8||Porsche Tristan Bayless||+09.430|
|9||Volkswagen Soma Iseri||+11.835|
|10||Ford Adam Wilk||+15.814|
|11||Mazda Jay Wong||+21.145|
|12||Honda Shohei Sugimori||+24.052|
The final race of the day featured two past World Champions and noted rivals, Igor Fraga of Brazil (IOF_RACING17) and Mikail Hizal of Turkey (TRL_MH16). The pressure was on Hizal as he was tasked with capitalising on Daniel Solis’ (USA) Race 1 performance (6th place) and Takuma Miyazono’s win to bring the championship home to Team Subaru.
The front row for the Grand Final, an enduring 30-lap contest around the tricky Autodromo de Interlagos, was occupied by pole-sitter Nicolás Rubilar of Chile (FT_NicoR) in the BMW M6 GT3 and the Honda NSX of Fraga. They opted to start the race on the soft-compound tyres, while the Porsche 911 RSR of Chile’s Angel Inostroza (YASHEAT_Loyrot) in P3, and the P4 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 driven by Baptiste Beauvois (PRiMA_TsuTsu) of France, went with the mediums. The remainder of the field, including Hizal in the Subaru WRX in P5, started on the hard-compound tyres with the intent of running them for only one lap.
After a clean start, the cars drove in single-file formation, not wanting to do anything rash too early in the race. On the second lap, the Mazda RX-Vision GT3, driven by Ryota Kokubun of Japan (Akagi_1942mi), overtook Hizal’s Subaru for 5th place, but it was largely given to him as the Turk was looking to play the long game. As expected, the BMW and Honda opened up a gap on the field running the slower tyres, and by Lap 5, it grew to four seconds.
The action began to intensify on Lap 7, as the Lamborghini Huracán, driven by France’s Thomas Scibilia (R8G_SpideeR) passed the Ford GT of Hungary’s Ádám Tápai (TRL_ADAM18) through Turn 3. At the end of this lap, Rubilar brought his BMW M6 GT3 into the pit lane taking on another set of soft-compound tyres. The following lap, Fraga brought in his Honda NSX, employing the same strategy as Rubilar, going with the softs again too.
With one-third of the race in the books, the running order on Lap 10 was Team BMW, followed by Team Porsche which had yet to pit, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz, but this order was destined to change several more times before the end of the race. On Lap 12, Fraga decided to make his move, pushing his Honda NSX past Inostroza’s Porsche 911 RSR on Turn 1 to take over 2nd place, looking to cut into the BMW’s 4.2-second lead.
After the Porsche pitted on Lap 13, returning to the track in P3, it was BMW and Honda that led the way. Meanwhile Hizal kept pushing his WRX to its very limits, passing the Mazda RX-Vision GT3 at 260 km/h on the front straight to claim 4th place. With a clear track in front of him, he began chipping away at the gap between his WRX on the soft-compound Michelins—having already fulfilled all of his tyre requirements—and the 3rd-place Porsche 911 RSR of Inostroza. The next lap saw the Rubilar in the BMW pit, looking to fulfil his stint on the medium-compound tyres, and although it returned to the track in 1st place, the Porsche 911 RSR, Honda NSX, and Subaru WRX, all running on the quicker soft-compound Michelins, were on its tail. Oddly, Fraga chose to keep his Honda NSX out.
On Lap 20, Japan’s Koki Mizuno (Gori_R4ichi) shot his GT by Citroën past the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 of Beauvois, who could wrap up the championship for the German company with a strong finish. Then, the Subaru made its final pit stop, going again with the softs, with the intent of taking them the rest of the way. Hizal rejoined the race in 6th place, and had to overcome a 16-second gap to the leader in 10 laps. But there were still a number of cars in front of him needing to pit, so where he really stood was not so clear.
On Lap 22, Fraga in the Honda NSX made a smooth pass on Inostroza’s Porsche 911 RSR on the front straight to take possession of 2nd place. While he set his sights on race-leader’s Rubilar’s BMW, Hizal kept laying down fastest lap after fastest lap, working his way to up to 4th position by this time.
A bit of nostalgia played out on Lap 24 when Fraga’s NSX exited the pits next to the Subaru WRX of Hizal. The two former world champions battled each other through the first half of the racetrack, going side by side on several corners, exchanging positions more than a few times in the process.
While the Subaru was noticeably the faster car, thanks to its stickier tyres, Hizal was in no hurry to pass Fraga after Rubilar’s BMW pitted, knowing that the Brazilian still needed to make a pit stop to fulfil his stint on the hard-compound tyres. On the final lap of the race, Fraga went in, dropping Team Honda to 4th place and ending its championship hopes, thus allowing Hizal to cruise to the finish line in front of the BMW M6 GT3 of Rubilar and Inostroza’s Porsche 911 RSR by a comfortable four seconds.
With a total of 41 points, Daniel Solis, Takuma Miyazono, and Mikail Hizal brought Subaru its first Manufacturer Series title, with Team BMW in 2nd place with 36 total points and Team Mercedes-Benz with 31 to complete the podium.
Hizal said after the race, “I think this was a good way to end 2020. I was a bit scared after the qualifying session because I messed up on the last corner, which put me in P5, but I followed our pit strategy and concentrated on just running my race. Daniel and Miyazono-san were keeping me informed on what was going on via team radio, so that helped a lot. It was a great team effort.”
Miyazono said: “I think people have called me a master strategist, but this time, Mikail and Daniel came up with the strategies, so this wasn’t a victory by one person, but one by the entire team. I am very happy with the result.”
An emotional Solis added. “I was stressing the entire time during the first race. I thought I’d be lucky to get 10th with my best effort, but I was really happy with a good performance and a 6th-place finish handing the momentum off to my teammates.”
|Rank||Manufacturer / Drivers||Time|
|1||Subaru Mikail Hizal||45:57.400|
|2||BMW Nicolás Rubilar||+04.326|
|3||Porsche Angel Inostroza||+08.747|
|4||Honda Igor Fraga||+09.627|
|5||Mercedes-Benz Baptiste Beauvois||+12.370|
|6||Mazda Ryota Kokubun||+12.409|
|7||Citroën Koki Mizuno||+12.499|
|8||Ford Ádám Tápai||+14.057|
|9||Volkswagen Nicolás Romero Díaz||+17.287|
|10||Toyota Tomoaki Yamanaka||+18.725|
|11||Audi Manuel Rodríguez||+22.828|
|12||Lamborghini Thomas Scibilia||+29.041|
2020 Series Manufacturer Series - World Finals
|Rank||Manufacturer / Drivers||World Tour Points||Race 1||Race 2||Grand Final||Total Points|
|1||Subaru Mikail Hizal / Takuma Miyazono / Daniel Solis||0||5||12||24||41|
|2||BMW Nicolás Rubilar / Randall Haywood / Coque López||3||7||6||20||36|
|3||Mercedes-Benz Baptiste Beauvois / Cody Nikola Latkovski / Lucas Bonelli||0||12||7||12||31|
|4||Honda Igor Fraga / Shohei Sugimori / Valerio Gallo||0||8||0||14||22|
|5||Porsche Angel Inostroza / Tristan Bayless / Matt Simmons||2||0||3||16||21|
|6||Ford Ádám Tápai / Adam Wilk / Tatsuhiko Kato||0||10||1||6||17|
|7||Citroën Koki Mizuno / Alonso Regalado / Andrew Brooks||0||0||8||8||16|
|8||Toyota Tomoaki Yamanaka / Adriano Carrazza / Simon Bishop||0||4||10||2||16|
|9||Mazda Ryota Kokubun / Jay Wong / Fabian Portilla||0||1||0||10||11|
|10||Lamborghini Thomas Scibilia / Manuel Troncoso / Daniel Holland||0||6||5||0||11|
|11||Volkswagen Nicolás Romero Díaz / Soma Iseri / Donovan Parker||0||2||2||4||8|
|12||Audi Manuel Rodríguez / Vinicius Neto / Emily Jones||0||3||4||0||7|