Gallo had set the fastest time in event qualification back in May, but that was based on a single-lap time trial. The Olympic Virtual Series final would pit 16 of the fastest players against one another over race distances to determine the champion – and it was quite the stacked field.
Among the 16 qualifiers were four world champions, with 2018 winner Igor Fraga representing Brazil, 2019 winner Mikail Hizal representing Germany, reigning champion Takuma Miyazono representing Japan, and the USA’s Daniel Solis who had formed part of the 2020 Manufacturer Series-winning Subaru team, alongside Hizal and Miyazono.
However it was France’s Baptiste Beauvois who was setting the standard early on. While Hizal took pole position in both of the opening two races, it was Beauvois who’d see the chequered flag first on both occasions.
First the Frenchman came out on top in a race with the Toyota GT86 GT4-style race car, just being able to break the slipstream on the long Tokyo Expressway course as the drivers behind scrapped among themselves. Then he repeated the feat by winning at the Sardegna road circuit in the Toyota GR Yaris after a thrilling four-way scrap through the final sector.
As is often the case with major Gran Turismo Sport events though, the final race carried double points, which meant everyone was still in with a chance – except Fraga, who’d suffered a major network issue and was unable to connect.
It was Gallo this time on pole position, pusing Hizal back into second, with Beauvois third alongside Miyazono. Electing to start on the softest tyre, Gallo made the best of the starts to escape the pack behind him, but Beauvois had quite different fortunes.
After first forming the filling in a Supra sandwich through the first chicane, Beauvois was unceremoniously dumped off the outside of the track at the kink as the soft-shod car of Canada’s Andrew Brooks went through on the inside. That shunted Beauvois to the back of the field and out of contention for the overall win, and the stewards gave Brooks a five-second penalty.
With a tyre advantage to Hizal behind him and Miyazono making a very rare error in the infamous Dragon Trail “Chicane of Death”, Gallo stretched his lead through the first portion of the race, but knew it would come back to his rivals later on with all three tyre grades - soft, medium, and hard – required during the race.
So it proved; with all the tyre changes done, Gallo held an eight-second lead over Hizal, and six laps to defend it to take both the race win and title. Hizal almost made it, but only had one chance to make the pass in the final turn of the race which Gallo fended off well. Winning by just 0.067s, Gallo became Olympic champion, ahead of Hizal, with Beauvois third after fighting back up to ninth.