After trailing his team-mate and defending champion Josh Rogers all season long, Dayne Warren has won the V8 Supercars Eseries courtesy of an unexpected final race result.
Rogers had been the man to beat throughout the season, starting back in round one at the end of October. Across the 14 races leading up to the final round, Rogers had won seven times, and stretched that to eight with victory in the first race of the night at Interlagos. While Warren started from pole, Rogers took a later pit stop to get past his team-mate and take the win. That stretched the champion’s lead up to 100 points.
The reverse grid second race shook the order up somewhat, with Jackson Souslin Harlow coming through to take the win ahead of his Brad Jones team-mate Jake Burton. Crucially, Warren kept his impressive podium record to take third, while Rogers could only work up to ninth from his 25th placed start.
That cut the gap back between the two Walkinshaw Andretti team-mates to 80 points, with 150 points available for the win in the final race at Phillip Island. Rogers lined up on pole and it all looked set for him to take the title. However Rogers couldn’t get off the line properly, allowing Warren to take the lead but also dropping him into a pack of cars. Rolling into turn one, Rogers hit the rear of Burton’s car and sent him off into the gravel and down to last.
The stewards took a dim view of the incident and slapped Rogers with a ten-second penalty, which he duly served on top of his second pit stop on lap ten. That moved him to last on the road, needing to finish 11th to take the title if Warren won.
If that seemed like a mountain to climb, it quickly got worse. In trying to get back up through the field, Rogers tripped over Emily Jones through the Siberia corner, and ended up in the gravel on the outside.
That left Warren clear to take the title, which he did in style courtesy of a race win ahead of Madison Down. The title also came with an A$10,000 (£5,500) prize, with Rogers winning A$7,500 (£4,150) for second and A$5,000 (£2,250) for Down in third.
Takuma Miyazono once again proved his pace in Gran Turismo to win the Asia-Oceania regional final. Miyazono had already qualified for the World Final this month courtesy of winning this year’s only live World Tour event in Sydney in February, but won his regional final too for some extra gloss.
Miyazono didn’t have things all his own way however, as countryman Ryota Kokubun set the early markers down. Though Miyazono took the night’s first pole position, at Red Bull Ring, Kokubun shadowed him all race long and grabbed the lead in a last-lap pass which covered almost the entire lap. Kokubun then stepped it up with a pole position at Mount Panorama, and led from lights to flag with a relatively comfortable 1.7-second margin over Miyazono in second.
In the third and final race of the night, a double-points event using the Red Bull X2019 derived from an Adrian Newey design specifically for Gran Turismo, Japanese drivers locked out the front two rows – again, Kokubun from Miyazono for pole. However it was Tomoaki Yamanaka that made the best start of the four to take the lead; he’d disconnected from the first race, and desperately needed a good finish to be in the World Final qualifying spots at the end.
However, Miyazono’s pace and strategy paid off in the end. The Sydney champion came home some four seconds clear of Yamanaka, with Kokubun in third. With Miyazono qualifying already through the Sydney event, that opened one extra slot for the fourth-placed driver.
That spot went to Australia’s Cody Latkovski. He’d been Miyazono’s nearest challenger in Sydney, and is such a regular on the podium at Gran Turismo events that it’s earned him the nickname “Codyum”, but was having a quiet day by his own standards.
While third in both of the opening races, Latkovski – who also won the gold medal for Australia in the FIA Motorsport Games last year – was a way off the back of Miyazono in both instances, and could only place sixth in the final race. However, this was enough to see him through to the World Final later this month.
The Asia-Oceania event was the last of the three regional finals, so now all 16 finals spots are filled. Whatever happens, there’ll be a new world champion, as neither the 2018 nor 2019 winners have qualified this year.
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