Gran Turismo World Series competitors gathered for the first live event in two and a half years.
Image credit: Gran Turismo
The Gran Turismo championships went online following the Sydney World Tour in February 2020, and nobody knew when LAN events would return. After the start of the Gran Turismo World Series in 2022 and the first rounds of the Manufacturers Cup and Nations Cup taking place, LAN Gran Turismo is back.
Players convened at the Red Bull Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria on 30-31 July for the World Series Showdown. The event was of the first of two live events this year, along with the World Finals which will be back at Monaco after two years away. It was also the first live show since the launch of Gran Turismo 7.
So what happened in the first live Gran Turismo event in two and a half years?
Subaru Extends Manufacturers Cup Lead
In the Manufacturers Cup, up to three drivers (one from each region) competed in an endurance race with driver swaps. They each represented an automotive brand in a 48-lap race around the newly reconfigured Trial Mountain circuit.
The World Series Manufacturers Cup season opener was held online and broadcast one week before, and it was 2020 Gran Turismo champion Takuma Miyazono who took victory. However, Miyazono couldn’t compete in this event after testing positive for COVID. Instead, Subaru were represented by Miyazono’s 2020 championship winning teammate Daniel Solis, and Gran Turismo World Series debutant Kylian Drumont.
In qualifying, Mercedes’ Baptiste Beauvois claimed pole position by quite a margin: 0.4 seconds. Erik Cases was second for BMW and in third was Roberto Sternberg of Volkswagen. Meanwhile, Subaru was fifth.
After a false start when the race had to be red flagged after three laps for a technical fault, the race got underway. Each team had to run all three tyre compounds for 14 consecutive laps, with each stint having to be performed by a different driver.
Despite being not so good over one lap, the Subaru proved to be very kind to its tyres. After an impressive first stint for newcomer Drumont on the mediums, he handed it over to Solis for the hard tyre stint. By lap 34 with all the stops completed, it was Toyota’s Ryota Kokubun who took the final stint, driving on the mediums.
Behind were Drumont for Subaru and World Series Nations Cup Round 1 winner Lucas Bonelli for Mercedes, both on the softs and closing in fast. Subaru had pitted very early for softs but after they both passed Kokubun, Bonelli couldn’t take advantage and Drumont brought it home.
The Nations Cup
For the following day, it was the Nations Cup action with all drivers out for themselves. They would compete in regional finals, EMEA (Europe, Middle-East, Africa), Americas and Asia-Oceania.
The top three from each regional final automatically qualified for the final, with the drivers who finished fourth to seventh in each regional final would compete in a last chance race known as the repechage, with the top three also earning entry into the final.
Drumont Stuns on Nations Cup Debut
The EMEA drivers did a 20 lap race around Deep Forest Raceway, and it was José Serrano, Baptiste Beauvois and Kylian Drumont who came out on top. Reigning Nations Cup champion Valerio Gallo just missed out on automatic qualification and progressed to the repechage.
For the Americas, the drivers tackled the Daytona road course under the floodlights in the Ford GT LM GTE-Pro car. 2018 Nations Cup champion Igor Fraga progressed along with Adriano Carrazza and Angel Inostroza. Round 1 winner Lucas Bonelli advanced to the repechage.
Finally, the drivers of Asia-Oceania tackled a 20 lap race around Fuji Speedway in Japanese Super Formula cars. The grand final qualifying positions went the way of Ryota Kokubun, Kenata Kawakami and Matt McEwen, whilst 2020 Manufacturers Cup and Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup champion Tomoaki Yamanaka was sent to the repechage.
For the repechage race, the Watkins Glen Short Course and the brand new Genesis X Gr.3 car were the circuit and vehicle of choice When all was said and done, it was Gallo, Bonelli and Yamanaka who progressed into the grand final.
The Grand Final
All twelve grand final competitors were to tackle Trial Mountain in a 30 lap race driving the Red Bull X2019 Competition. Serrano qualified on pole ahead of Fraga and Kokubun, whereas Kylian Drumont qualified down in a relatively lowly seventh. The drivers each had to run all three types of tyre compound.
As a result, some opted for unorthodox strategies where they got off the hard tyre as quickly as possible and did more than the minimum two stops. Fraga pitted on lap five to switch from mediums to hards, and was immediately back in the following lap to switch to softs, stopping again later in the race for another set of softs.
During the race though, Fraga incurred a two-second slowdown penalty after colliding with his compatriot Carrazza. This proved crucial, as when Kylian Drumont pitted for the third and final time to switch to new softs, he came out fewer than two seconds ahead.
Fraga tried to chip away at Drumont’s lead, but he used up too much of his tyre life and it allowed Drumont to build up a near eight second lead. The Frenchman crossed the line first to cap off an incredible first appearance in the Gran Turismo World Series.
Whilst online World Series rounds have a points scoring system of 3-2-1, the World Series Showdown points scoring system is 6-5-4-3-2-1. As a result, after the two online rounds in the Manufacturers and Nations Cup along with the World Series Showdown, the points standings are as follows.
|Igor Fraga (BRA)
|Kylian Drumont (FRA)
|Ryota Kokubun (JPN)
|Lucas Bonelli (BRA)
|Baptiste Beauvois (FRA)
Those who missed it can rewatch all the action on the PlayStation YouTube channel. World Series Round 2 of the Nations Cup will take place on 25 September.
Who impressed you the most in the Gran Turismo World Series Showdown? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!