Pol Urra wins Gran Turismo’s 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup

Pol Urra wins Gran Turismo’s 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup

Gran Turismo 7

The only solo virtual motorsport prize in this year’s World Series World Finals, Urra won the winner-takes-all finale in dramatic fashion.

The 2023 Gran Turismo World Series World Finals have kicked off with the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup decider in Spain – now the only non-team-base competition in Gran Turismo 7’s calendar.

22 of the world’s quickest PlayStation drivers descended upon a requisitioned Fira de Barcelona to determine one victor.

A brief qualifying session set the grid for two semi-finals. The top four from each advanced into the final, while 12 of the remaining competitors entered a last-chance repêchage to determine four more to set up a 12-way battle.

In the initial timed session using GR Corollas around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Ryota Kokubun set the quickest time by a scant 0.070s ahead of Coque López.

Semi-Final A

Kokobun led comfortably away at the start of an eight-lap race around Grand Valley Highway 1 in the Gr.3 Toyota GR Supra Racing Concepts, or so it seemed.

World Final debutant Pol Urra took the now erstwhile leader by surprise, taking the lead with side-by-side contact through the tightening seventh corner. The partisan crowd present at the LAN event went wild.

Gran Turismo 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup - semi final A lead

While the top two broke free, most of the focus was on Adriano Carrazza’s staunch defence of third from Takuma Miyazono. Despite the three-time World Series Manufacturers Champion grabbing the position on the penultimate lap, the Brazilian held on until the end.

Urra would be pressurised by Kokubun all the way. Defensive shapes were thrown, but the home hero held on following the decisive move on the opening lap.

Semi-Final B

It was a Spanish one-two with Coque López leading Jose Serrano into the first corner at Deep Forest Raceway for 10 laps – once again in identical racing-modified Supras.

For most of the race, the three drivers of Martin Marza, Alex López Murillo and Baptiste Beauvois were duking it out for third, fourth and fifth, each driver desperate to make it into the next round. Eventually, this went the way of first López Murillo and then Beauvois after an audacious move by the Spaniard on Marza at the hairpin allowing the French competitor to follow through.

Gran Turismo 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup - semi final spin

Once again, such as in the opening semi-final, the top two pulled away from the chasing pack, but as the laps counted down, they chose to fight.

Serrano sat on the bootlid of the reigning Nations Cup champion. Halfway through the race, the positions were reversed. In the following laps, López had the chance to retake the lead but elected to sit in the slipstream.

On the penultimate lap, that resolve was broken, throwing caution to the wind and diving down the inside at the hairpin. Serrano cut back on the corner’s exit, scything back ahead before defending into the first corner of the final tour. It was a move that stuck.

Repêchage

12 drivers racing on snow for a race in GR Yaris pocket-rockets around the recently released Lake Louise venue. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, you would be correct.

The slippy surface mixed with solid perimeter walls and lively hatchbacks resulted in a frantic charge for the final sports.

Not that Miyazono was particularly flustered, disappearing into the distance as behind, everyone else seemingly clattered into each other.

Gran Turismo 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup - Lake Louise

Once it had settled down, Guy Barbara sprinted into a clear second in spectacular sideways fashion into a clear second place ahead of Lucas Bonelli in third. Fourth through to 11th, however, were line astern for the latter quarter.

Marza made a move on Mehdi Hafidi for the coveted fourth place at the final corner but with contact. The two then slid through the first corner with more corrective steering than in a Formula Drift event, with the French driver staying ahead across the line and taking the last spot.

Final

The circus then returned to the Barcelona-Catalunya venue utilising a field of Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercars. Across 23 laps, entrants were required to use at least two different tyre compounds, forcing pitlane visits and a multitude of different strategies.

Of the 12 finalists, Urra was on pole ahead of compatriot Serrano – currently enjoying a strong run of form following two event wins during August’s Showdown event in Amsterdam.

The top non-Spanish driver was Kokubun in third with Carrazza in fourth. The Brazilian driver attached early, stealing third at the start of the second lap, with Miyazono also forcing his way through just nine corners later.

Gran Turismo 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup - Lopez div

At this point, the top four were on soft tyres, while the rest of the field ran mediums. Coque López also overtook Kokubun in the early stages – crucially becoming the leader of those on the slower compound.

Up front, Urra and Serrano extended their lead over the rest of the contenders, playing a savvy game of slipstreaming and presumably fuel saving – neither attacking nor defending overly aggressively and even when Serrano took the lead on lap seven, Urra didn’t fight.

Following the final round of pitstops, Carrazza and Miyazono both lost time trying to get the leaders, who were on mediums, burning up their softs and not receiving the clear laps they needed to make the most of their then advantageous rubber.

Gran Turismo 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup - final lap

With five laps remaining, that meant three Spaniards could win and on home turf. 18-yeard-old Urra led Serrano, but both were caught by C López, now using soft tyres as opposed to mediums. He dived past both at the first corner, but in the process, Serrano was punted off and dropped to fourth after playing it smart all race. Further compounding the moment, Urra received a 0.5s penalty for track limit abuses, while López picked up a two-second reprimand for the collision.

The shenanigans up front created a window of opportunity for a resurgent Kokubun, closing in on the lead, but picking up a one-second penalty for a move on Serrano while on the ascendancy. That gave Urra a lifeline, and when on the final lap López had used up all of his rubber, the Barcelona native swept to victory in front of an adoring crowd.

Pol Urra Gran Turismo 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup

“It’s unbelievable,” said victor Urra.

“It’s my first year in the World Series so to win a title or competition in the first year, it’s amazing.”

2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup results

  1. Pol Urra – 23 Laps
  2. Ryota Kokubun +0.258
  3. Coque López +0.559
  4. Jose Serrano +6.187
  5. Lucas Bonelli +6.961
  6. Guy Barbara +8.018
  7. Takuma Miyazono +8.300
  8. Mehdi Hafidi +10.065
  9. Alex López Murillo +13.581
  10. Baptiste Beauvois +18.261
  11. Calen Roach +19.566
  12. Adriano Carrazza +27.758

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