Esports News | Spain wins Gran Turismo Nations Cup

05th December 2023
Andrew Evans

The showpiece Gran Turismo World Series final, held for the first time this year in Barcelona, saw title favourites Spain claim the Nations Cup trophy while Nissan upset the odds to become Manufacturers Cup champions five years on from its 2018 heartbreak.


Opening the event as usual was the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup, for which drivers from around the world qualified in an online series using a range of the brand’s vehicles. Spain’s Pol Urra had been the top online qualifier, and came through his semi-final with a victory having started second behind veteran finalist Ryota Kokubun. There was more Spanish success in the second semi-final, as Jose Serrano beat fellow countryman – and defending Nations Cup champion – Coque Lopez. 2020 series champion Takuma Miyazono had to battle through a chaotic repechage race around a snow rally course to book his place in the final.

The final saw the players doing battle in the GR010 Hybrid LMH car at the nearby Catalunya track, and it too became a battle of the Spaniards. That nearly boiled over when a lunge from Lopez to pass both Urra and Serrano resulted in the latter being ejected from the outside of turn two – earning Lopez a two-second penalty.

Come the final lap though, Lopez was leading the way, but he’d pushed his tyres too far and nearly twitched himself out of contention entirely. He somehow gathered it up, but not before Urra and Kokubun had made their way past. Despite an all-out attack from the Japanese driver, Urra held firm to take the title in his first ever finals appearance.

Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup Final Results

  1. Pol Urra (Spain – Toyota GR010 Hybrid) – 23 laps
  2. Ryota Kokubun (Japan – Toyota GR010 Hybrid) +0.258
  3. Coque Lopez (Spain – Toyota GR010 Hybrid) +0.817

The Manufacturers Cup brought together a team of three drivers – one from each of the three regions (Americas, Asia-Oceania, and EMEA) – for each of the 12 qualified brands, racing in GT3-equivalent vehicles.

A qualifying race saw a battle between the two two-time champion squads as Toyota (Lopez) led Subaru (Miyazono) from start to finish in the eight-lap sprint at Catalunya, with BMW (Seiya Suzuki) doing well to reclaim third from Nissan after slipping back early in the race.


That set the grid for the final: a race requiring all three drivers to take part, switching in the pits. This was set at the Nürburgring 24 Hours circuit incorporating both the Nordschleife and the Grand Prix loops, and began in wet conditions which saw several drivers struggling.

Most notably this included the leading Toyota, as Rikuto Kobayashi dropped the Supra at the Karussell, giving the lead to Miyazono in the Subaru. That’d last half a lap as Mehdi Hafidi’s Nissan cruised past, only to see Randall Haywood in the recovering Lamborghini overtake around the GP circuit’s hairpin.

The race’s most controversial moment came after the cars all dived in for slicks and a driver change. Nicolas Romero in the Genesis collided with the rear of the Lamborghini now driven by Yuki Kodaka at turn one, skittling the Huracan down the order. While penalised for the move, the small, one-second penalty surprised everyone.


This also gave Nissan some breathing room at the front, which Kokubun extended over his two-lap stint to eight seconds. That would be a comfortable cushion for Mateo Estevez to hold to the finish, taking the win for the team which in 2018 ran out of fuel in a similar position at the same circuit in the final just metres from the finish.

Mercedes staged a late-race comeback to finish second, while Genesis made it an unlikely third after picking up four places in the final chicane following a massive accident between the Honda and BMW which also collected the uninvolved Mazda and Toyota cars.

GT World Series Manufacturers Cup Final Results

  1. Nissan (Estevez, Hafidi, Kokubun – Nissan GT-R Gr.3) – 5 laps
  2. Mercedes-AMG (Beauvois, Bonelli, Yamanaka – Mercedes-AMG GT3) +1.761
  3. Genesis (Heldt, Romero, Sasaki – Genesis X Gr.3) +5.107

For the first time, the Nations Cup was also a team event with the three best players from each of 12 qualified countries – five from Europe, two each from North America, South America, and Asia, and one from Oceania – literally carrying the flag.

Each driver would race once in their own individual race, followed by a final with all three taking part through driver swaps, and perhaps as expected after the Spanish domination of the Toyota event, it was Spain that led the way in qualifying.


Urra proved to be the form driver of race one, leaving it late to regain his lead from Italy’s Giorgio Mangano, but the countries clashed in a chaotic race at Watkins Glen in a race won by Brazil’s Igor Fraga. Marco Busnelli clipped Jose Serrano on the opening lap, sending both cars tumbling down the order as a penalty made its way to the Italian for the incident.

Brazil was victorious again in the third solo race as Adriano Carrazza coolly took a lights-to-flag win, but Lopez took second for Spain after fighting past Japan’s Kobayashi – who also fought back on Italy’s Gallo to keep a spot on the podium.

The final took place in the traditional Red Bull X2019 Competition cars, in a strategic battle at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Spain hit the front early on, but had to retake the lead from Brazil after a slightly longer first pitstop.


Having already used the softer two tyre grades, Spain was left having to defend the time gap to the end from a late-charging Japan as Kobayashi carved past the Brazilian and Italian cars.

However there was simply too much for the young Japanese driver to do, as Urra took the chequered flag first for the second time in three days to the delight of the Spanish crowd packing the venue – also making Lopez the first two-time Nations Cup winner in the process.

GT World Series Nations Cup Final Results

  1. Spain (Lopez/Serrano/Urra – Red Bull X2019) – 22 laps
  2. Japan (Kobayashi/Suzuki – Red Bull X2019) +3.434
  3. Italy (Busnelli/Gallo/Mangano – Red Bull X2019) +8.326
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