Hungary’s Patrick Blazsan has taken a surprise lead in Gran Turismo’s World Series Nations Cup, in a remarkable race at Laguna Seca.
Blazsan is something of a GT Sport veteran, virtually ever-present in live events over the last three years, but it’s been a while since we saw him fighting for wins. Indeed his qualifying lap for the Laguna Seca race, unusually employing the KTM X-Bow, only put him eighth on the grid, some three-tenths behind the pole-sitter Tomoaki Yamanaka.
Drivers were required to use both medium and soft tires during the 20-lap race, and while the soft-shod front six quickly built a gap to the leading medium-runner – Blazsan – the race would come back in the second half as the tyre advantage swapped the other way.
With all the pit stops sorted out during the middle laps, Blazsan was four seconds behind sixth place, but set about cutting into that. Japanese duo of Takuma Miyazono – the reigning champion – and Ryota Kokubun were quickly dealt with, and Blazsan was soon onto the squabbling front three of Valerio Gallo, Baptiste Beauvois, and Yamanaka.
Gallo ended up visiting the gravel traps of Laguna Seca, after getting his tyres dirty and sliding off, allowing Blazsan through past Beauvois in the confusion, and up onto Yamanaka’s exhaust. The Japanese driver’s defence lasted until the start of the final lap, but he couldn’t hold off the softer tyres, allowing the Hungarian to take the win. Combined with his second place in the first World Series event, that now gives Blazsan the overall lead on five points, ahead of Gallo on three, with Yamanaka now third on two.
The Manufacturer Series race was considerably more straightforward, with Miyazono – also defending champion of this series – taking a lights-to-flag victory for Team Subaru at the Nürburgring.
Although Brazil’s Adriano Carrazza in the Toyota Supra mounted a spirited attack early in the race, his driving attracted some attention from the stewards and, combined with Gallo’s penalty for track limits at the final chicane, Miyazono was ultimately allowed to escape as early as the second lap.
Unlike the Nations Cup, the soft-first tyre selection proved far more advantageous. The first two finishers both used this strategy, with Miyazono winning by more than five seconds over Gallo’s Honda NSX, who was also five seconds clear of third. That final podium step went to Lucas Bonelli of Brazil and Mercedes, who defended admirably from Kokubun’s Mazda RX-Vision.
Subaru now heads the table on four points, from Porsche on three, and Mazda and Honda tied on two apiece.
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