The Italian driver has been in good form recently, narrowly missing out on the 2020 world title and setting the fastest time in the Olympic Virtual Series qualifier, but didn’t have it all his own way in qualifying for the Nations Cup. Instead it was Canada’s Andrew Brooks who put his Mazda RX-Vision GT3 on pole for the race at Monza, with Gallo only third behind Brazil’s Adriano Carrazza.
As with the real world, Monza’s first corner is often chaotic, and Carrazza came off worst to leave Brooks, Gallo, and Hungary’s Patrik Blazsan to escape at the front. For much of the race, that looked to be how it would finish, as the three drivers worked together to preserve the slipstream. However, strategy always plays a role in Gran Turismo events, with drivers required to use soft, medium, and hard tyres, and while the front trio were making gains on the softer options the midfield had already got rid of the hardest compounds. It wasn’t until the final lap that this became apparent, as the front three suddenly became a front six; Brooks, Gallo, and Blazsan pitted for a last lap dash on hard tyres to find Spain’s Coque Lopez and Jose Serrano and defending world champion Takuma Miyazono charging through on softs.
Brooks couldn’t hold off Lopez, losing out at the finish line by just 0.034 seconds, giving the Spaniard one point for his podium finish. However Gallo was just able to keep Blazsan at bay to take the maximum three points available.
In the Manufacturer Series race however, Gallo had a much less straightforward time. After a good qualifying put him second at Suzuka in his Honda NSX behind Ryota Kokubun’s Mazda, the Italian was soon at the front of the field and creating a gap. An unforced error through the infamous 130R though put paid to Gallo’s ambitions, as the Italian driver span off, gifting the lead back to Kokubun, who had Lamborghini’s Manuel Troncoso and Audi’s Vinicius Neto in close attendance. Race strategy soon came to the fore again, as the front-running soft drivers began to pit for their harder tyres. Miyazono in the Subaru had joined third-place starter Angel Inostroza as they charged through the middle of the race, to join Kokubun and Troncoso as a front four. There they tussled for the final third of the race before more final lap drama. This time it was Troncoso’s turn to dip a wheel at 130R, sending the Lamborghini spinning back down to sixth.
Despite holding the lead for the majority of the race, Kokubun was only able to finish second behind Inostroza’s Porsche, with Miyazono third for the champion Subaru team.
The second round of the World Series takes place next month, before the mid-season “Showdown” that will see the best players from the online qualifiers join the fray.
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