- Thrilling Racing the Order of the Day for Historic First-ever Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event!
- 2021 Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event
Tokyo, June 23, 2021 – The much-anticipated Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event marked a historic moment as it represents the first step into Esports and motor sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). With the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) chosen as the regulator and sanctioning body and Polyphony Digital selected as the organisers and Gran Turismo Sport appointed as the tournament platform of choice, players from around the world took to their consoles for a chance to represent their countries and become the first-ever winner.
After 11 intense days of battling through the Global Online Qualification event, 16 racers made the final cut. In total, seven countries from the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region were represented, along with the top four from Asia, one from Oceania, two from North America and two from Central & South America.
The World Final of the Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event consisted of three races where points were awarded for the top ten positions. The pole sitter and the player who set fastest lap in each race scored a point as well. Points for the Grand Final were worth double, all but ensuring that the outcome would not be decided until the final checkered flag had dropped.
Race 1: Tokyo Expressway – East Loop, 7 laps
The venue for the first race was the Tokyo Expressway – East Outer Loop, a tricky street circuit on the narrow streets of Tokyo, Japan, where the slightest error always proves costly. The 2019 FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships Nations Cup champion, Mikail Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING), representing Germany, took pole position, with fast Frenchman Baptiste Beauvois (R8G_TSUTSU) lined up beside him. Row Two consisted of Japan’s Takuma Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20), last year’s Nations Cup champion, with Igor Fraga (IOF_RACING17) of Brazil, who won the series in 2018.
When the red lights went out for the seven-lap contest held at night, the Toyota 86 Gr.4 racecars used one another’s slipstream to gain an advantage going into the first corner. After hitting 155 mph on the front straight, the cars, bathed in special Olympic liveries, braked hard for the tight right-hander. Here, Beauvois made a move to the outside and squeezed past Hizail to snatch away the race lead. The German returned the gesture the following lap, drafting Beauvois to reclaim P1, only to give it back up the following corner. Meanwhile, some reshuffling was taking place at the middle of the pack, when Jose Serrano of Spain (PR1_JOSETE), Daniel Solis of the USA (PX7-Lamb) and Canada’s Andrew Brooks (PX7-Deafsun) moved up to 8th, 9th, and 10th place, respectively.
With the lead changing hands between the top four cars on Lap 4, Hizal, Beauvois and Fraga battled each other ferociously through Turns 1, 2 and 3, going three wide through the entire section. Beauvois won this fight, pulling ahead at Turn 5, as Fraga, Hizal and Miyazono filled up his side mirrors. An even bigger battle ensued the following lap, as Miyazono, Hizal, Fraga and now Serrano went five wide (!) through Turn 1 – and this on a track with no run-off, only walls and barriers.
By midway through Lap 6, Beauvois had opened up a one-second lead over the rest of the field, setting the stage for a frantic battle for 2nd place on the final lap. Fraga, Italy’s Valerio Gallo (Williams_BRacer), who had worked his way up from 5th, Miyazono, Hizal and Serrano put it all on the line as they sought to get to the podium. The final corner erupted in chaos as Serrano ran into the back of Gallo, and Nikita Moysov of the Czech Republic (ERM_Nick) slammed into Hizal’s car. The Italian somehow managed to retain P3, but Hizal did not fare as well, dropping to 7th place, while Miyazono, who also got caught in the scrum, sank to 5th.
The race ended with Beauvois crossing the finish line first to become the first race driver ever to win an Olympic event! Fraga came in 2nd place and Serrano, who took the fastest-lap bonus point, in 3rd; however, the Spaniard was later penalized for his part in the final-lap incident, dropping him to a disappointing 11th and handing 3rd place to Gallo.
Race 2: Sardegna - Road Track - B, 13 laps
The second race of the day was a 13-lap contest around the technical Sardegna – Road Track – B in the Toyota GR Yaris RZ. It was Germany’s Mikail Hizal who once again claimed pole position, with Race 1 winner Baptiste Beauvois of France in the No. 2 slot. Igor Fraga (Brazil) and Takuma Miyazono (Japan) occupied P3 and P4. In this race, the drivers were required to complete at least one lap on both medium- and hard-compound tires, so pit and tire strategy would play a key role in determining the outcome.
As soon as the race started, Fraga suddenly pulled off the track in what appeared to be a technical problem. His colorful front-wheel-drive Yaris sat on the grass, motionless, as the rest of the field blew past him toward the first corner. It was tragic and unfortunate, but the Brazilian’s day had come to a premature end due to connection problems at his home. On Lap 4, Beauvois drafted Hizal on the long back straight to take the overall lead.
By this time, the top four cars, all running on the faster medium-compound tires, had opened up a two-second cushion on the rest of the field. On Lap 6, they dove into the pits to switch to the hard-compound as Gallo, who was already on the hard-compound stuff, stayed out and took over the race lead. Spain’s Jose Serrano and Chile’s Angel Inostroza (YASHEAT_Loyrot), also on the hard tires, ran 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Beauvois and company returned to the track in 5th through 8th place, nearly 12 seconds behind 4th-place Taj Aiman of Malaysia (TAJ_AIMAN). After Gallo, Serrano, Inostroza and Aiman pitted on Lap 8, Beauvois reclaimed the lead.
Lap 10 saw Hizal trying to pull ahead of the pack, but Beauvois defended his line adamantly. Then, Miyazono, sensing an opportunity, dove to the inside of Hizal, taking over 2nd place while, a bit later, Gallo snuck past Moysov for 5th place.
For the next two laps, the top four cars were virtually stuck to each other as they made their way around the track. Despite being on the hard-compound tires, their pace was remarkably quick, not allowing Gallo and Moysov, both on stickier tires, to get anywhere near striking distance. With one lap to go, it was a four-horse sprint to the finish. Halfway through the final lap, Beauvois missed the apex on Turn 8, opening up space for Hizal, Miyazono and Blazsán to get by.
On the final corner of the race, it was Hizal’s turn to make a costly error, going wide and dropping a tire off the track. This allowed the others to blow by him, with Beauvois reclaiming the overall lead. The Frenchman took full advantage of the opportunity, crossing the finish line first and making it two for two on the day. His second race win gave him a commanding nine-point lead going into the Grand Final. Blazsán crossed the finish line in 2nd, while Miyazono came in 3rd and Hizal brought his car home in a disappointing 4th place.
Grand Final: Dragon Trail – Seaside, 18 laps
With the points worth double in the Grand Final, it was still anyone’s guess who would walk away as the first ever Olympic driving champion. France’s Baptiste Beauvois was certainly in the driver seat (pun not intended) as he enjoyed a nine-point lead over 2nd-place Takuma Miyazono of Japan and Germany’s Mikail Hizal. The drivers strapped themselves into their respective Toyota GR Supra Racing Concepts to take on the gruelling 18-lap finale on the tricky Dragon Trail – Seaside track. For this contest, they were required to complete at least one lap each on soft-, medium- and hard-compound tires. The starting order for the final race of the day was Valerio Gallo (Italy) in P1, followed by Hizal, Beauvois and Miyazono, in that order.
On the opening lap, the championship was thrust into instant disarray when points leader Beauvois got caught in dense traffic and was forced off the track by Canada’s Andrew Brooks going into Turn 4. Beauvois tried to return to action, but was unceremoniously bumped by Thailand’s Nathayos Sirigaya (PSC_themiang_GT1) in the process, causing him to spin. It was absolute disaster for the Frenchman, as he found himself in last place. While all this was taking place, Gallo broke free from the pack, taking a 2.0-second lead over 2nd-place Hizal and Nikita Moysov of the Czech Republic, who had worked his way up to P3.
On Lap 2, Miyazono, on the soft-compound tires, overtook Moysov to claim 3rd place and began chasing down Hizal, who was running on the medium-compound tires. It didn’t take long for the Japanese driver to get past the German, as both Miyazono and Andrew Brooks (Canada) shot past Hizal on the final corner of the lap.
On Lap 4, many of the cars running on hard-compound tires made the first of their two required pitstops, with most of them going to the mediums, saving the fastest soft rubber for the end of the race. On the following lap, Gallo and Hizal came in, the Italian going to the mediums and the German opting for the hards, handing the race lead to Miyazono...for now. The top four cars pitted on Lap 7, once again reshuffling the running order and handing the lead back to Gallo. At the halfway point of the race, Gallo enjoyed a commanding 8.5-second lead over 2nd-place Hizal, who still had his stint left on the soft-compound tires. Running behind him was Patrik Blazsán of Hungary, Miyazono and Greece’s Konstantinos Konstantinou (VQS_NTinoskonsta).
On Lap 11, Miyazono, who had worked his way past two cars, squeezed past Hizal to grab 2nd place. Konstantinou followed suit, as Hizal’s hard-compound tires were evidently slowing his pace, signalling that it was finally time for him to change to the soft-compound. Then, Gallo came in the following lap, taking on the slowest hard-compound tires.
Lap 13 saw the top two cars, Konstantinou and Miyazono, make their pitstops, handing the lead back to Gallo, with Hizal in hot pursuit on the soft-compound tires. He had five laps left and five seconds to make up if he was going to catch Gallo, who’s pace had noticeably faltered on the slower tires. By Lap 15, Hizal cut the lead down to 2.5 seconds. On Lap 16, Chile’s Angel Inostroza passed Spain’s Jose Serrano to claim 3rd place, while Hizal shaved another full second from Gallo’s lead. Then, on the following lap, Gallo’s lead was reduced to less than a second.
With only one lap to go, Hizal finally caught Gallo, driving right up to his rear bumper. It was now a race for the Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event championship between these two rivals, with the double points on offer meaning the winner would be crowned Olympic winner. Four seconds behind them, a furious battle for 3rd place was brewing as Serrano and Inostroza were going at one another in an intense display of competitive racing.
Gallo maintained his lead into the Turn 7 hairpin, as Hizal frantically looked for a way past. On the final corner of the race, Hizal laid it all on the line. He moved to the outside hoping to shoot forward and shut the door, but Gallo kept his line and his composure, not allowing Hizal’s Supra to get by. It was a gallant effort on the part of the German, but the day and the race belonged to Italy and Valerio Gallo, as he crossed the finish line six-hundredths of a second in front of Hizal’s car, scoring the first ever Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event win. Taking 3rd place in the Grand Final was Serrano, followed by Inostroza, Blazsán and Miyazono.
The final tally of the day saw Valerio Gallo with 38 points, followed by Mikail Hizal with 35. Then came Baptiste Beauvois, who placed 9th in the Grand Final to end up with a total of 28 points, and Patrik Blazsán with 26.
“I was so emotional at the end, I cried,” explained the victorious Gallo after the race. “For a minute, I didn’t think I could do it. Mikail was so close, and he is a warrior. I had to battle right to the end. For me it’s like owning the world for a minute – winning in the home of all sport. Winning this is mind blowing.”
At the end of the day, the fans were treated to spectacular battles filled with glory, drama, sportsmanship and heartbreak, the very elements that define the spirit of competition. In that regard, the first Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event was a truly successful and memorable venture.
2021 Olympic Virtual Series Motor Sport Event
|Rank||Driver||Race 1||Race 2||Grand Final||Total Points|
|1||Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer||8||5||25||38|
|2||Mikail Hizal TRL_LIGHTNING||7||8||20||35|
|3||Baptiste Beauvois R8G_TSUTSU||12||12||4||28|
|4||Patrik Blazsán Fuvaros8||4||10||12||26|
|5||Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20||7||8||10||25|
|6||Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE||1||4||17||22|
|7||Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot||3||4||14||21|
|8||Nikita Moysov ERM_Nick||5||6||8||19|
|9||Igor Fraga IOF_RACING17||10||-||-||10|
|10||Konstantinos Konstantinou VQS_Ntinoskonsta||1||0||6||7|
|11||Stanford Chau B0SSSSCHAU||2||0||2||4|
|12||Andrew Brooks PX7-Deafsun||0||2||0||2|
|13||Adam Wilk Adam_2167||0||1||0||1|
|14||Daniel Solis PX7-Lamb||0||0||0||0|
|15||Nathayos Sirigaya PSC_themiang_GT1||0||0||0||0|
|16||Taj Aiman TAJ_AIMAN||0||0||0||0|