Thirty-two drivers from around the world qualified for the finals – including a representative from Guatemala for the first time – requiring a semi-final phase to pare the field down to the final 16.
First up was the Asia-Oceania semi, with ten qualifiers from the region racing at Mount Panorama in special Mazda Roadster Touring Cars. Ryota Kokubun took pole position ahead of 2020 champion Takuma Miyazono, but Miyazono got the better start to lead at the first corner.
Only five drivers could qualify, so the fight for fifth place was the key battle, but it soon spilled over. Japan’s Tomoaki Yamanaka tagged the Australian driver Guy Barbara as he tried to take fifth, spinning him into the wall and earning a two-second penalty as a result – dropping both to the back of the field. Miyazono drove a controlled race, allowing Australia’s Andrew Lee to stay in the lead until the last pass down Conrod Straight. He’d win, with Matthew McEwen from New Zealand sneaking through on the line for second, ahead of Lee, Kanata Kawakami, and Kokubun.
The European semi took place at Monza, using a configuration missing the first chicane at Rettifilo. Patrik Blazsan from Hungary qualified on pole, with Serrano alongside him and Gallo only third.
A first-lap incident at Variante della Roggia saw a number of cars come to grief, though Gallo and Serrano weren’t involved, and Spain’s Coque Lopez, running a flipped tyre strategy, benefitted the most. In the end, Lopez climbed from 12th to third, while Gallo made a last-lap move at Curva Grande to win from Serrano. Giorgio Mangano, Baptiste Beauvois and Blazsan also made the top six and qualified for the final.