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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