Gran Turismo World Series crowns new champion | FOS Future Lab
Coque Lopez has won the Gran Turismo championship, becoming the first Spanish driver to lift the trophy, after a controversial end to the final race.
The Gran Turismo “World Series” World Final was hosted in Monaco for the first time in three years, and Lopez had a nervous wait to learn the outcome of a final lap investigation before he could celebrate his victory.
Earlier in the weekend, Lopez had claimed victory in the Europe/Middle East/Africa regional final in a race at Monza in the Lamborghini Vision GT car – its first appearance since it was unveiled at the last Monaco event in 2019.
France’s Thomas Labouteley claimed pole position for the race, with both Lopez and defending champion Valerio Gallo starting right behind him. By the time the cars had left Rettifilo, the front three were in the exact opposite order, with Gallo sneaking past both cars. Lopez jumped into second through Curva Grande.
The Spanish driver hit the front almost by mistake. He appeared to out-brake himself into the Rettifilo but fortunately Gallo saw the move coming and stayed left. Lopez did get the Lamborghini stopped in time and took the lead.
Working together they pulled out enough of a gap to not be troubled through the rest of the race, while Labouteley fell away and out of the all-important third-place spot which would grant qualification to the grand final. Instead it was fellow countryman Baptiste Beauvois who took the place, despite some very badly worn tyres.
The Asia-Oceania regional final would see 2020 champion Takuma Miyazono breeze to a comfortable victory ahead of compatriot Tomoaki Yamanaka, in a tricky race with classic Ferrari 330 P4s at the Watkins Glen circuit.
Miyazono started on pole and was never really troubled throughout, but the highlight of the race was a three-lap battle between former regional champion Ryota Kokubun and newcomer Seiya Suzuki.
Suzuki had started in second place but slipped back as the race progressed until he fell into the clutches of Kokubun. The two ran side-by-side for much of the closing stages, with Kokubun needing to get the job done twice after a slide saw him graze the barriers and lose the spot again. Second time was the charm, and Kokubun claimed his place in the final.
Chile’s Angel Inostroza carried his good form through to the Americas Regional Final, taking a lights-to-flag win in the McLaren MP4/4 at Interlagos. He was largely untouchable throughout, though 2018 champion Igor Fraga was closing in fast towards the end of the race. After a little contact at the start, Lucas Bonelli ran a lonely race to take third and the final qualifying spot.
There was one more chance for drivers to qualify for the final, with the usually hectic Repechage. This event saw the best four non-qualifiers from each race compete for three more spots in the Suzuki Escudo Pikes Peak hillclimb car, in a race at Willow Springs.
It was fairly appropriate then that Seiya Suzuki would start on pole, and his was also the fastest Suzuki throughout the race, coming home first ahead of Spain’s Jose Serrano. That vital third spot was eventually claimed by Adriano Carrazza after a late-race battle with Kanata Kawakami.
That set the 12-car field for the traditional Grand Final, using Gran Turismo’s Red Bull X2019 concept racing car around the reverse version of returning fan-favourite circuit Trial Mountain. Miyazono set the fastest qualifying time, but by just one-thousandth of a second from Lopez, with Inostroza lining up third.
Miyazono and Lopez immediately set about building a lead on the soft tyres, but when Miyazono pitted for a second set – meaning he’d need two more stops to meet the tyre requirements – Lopez shifted strategy to the medium compound instead.
Fraga and Beauvois were all but ruled out of contention by uncharacteristic pit-entry mistakes that earned them a three-second penalty apiece, while Kokubun, Serrano, and Yamanaka all made unforced errors.
As the race came towards its end it became clear that the two front-runners, making a late stop for the slow hard tyres, would be occupying the same piece of road as the fast-finishing Inostroza, and sure enough he split the two as they exited the pits.
A messy final lap ensued, with the three drivers repeatedly clashing – Miyazono ending up worst off – but after investigation the stewards opted not to change the result, crowning Lopez the champion.
Subaru recaptured the title in the Manufacturers Cup, courtesy of an excellent drive in the wet conditions of Spa-Francorchamps by Kylian Drumont. Drumont took the anchor leg in the car shared with 2020 champions Takuma Miyazono and Daniel Solis and carved through from fifth to the race and championship lead despite late attention from the defending champion Toyota team of Fraga, Nikita Moysov, and Ryota Kokubun.