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The climax to the 2021 FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships was broadcast this past weekend with the finales of both the Nations Cup and Manufacturer Series.


Thirty-two of the fastest drivers in the world competed in three separate semi-final races based on region and their goal was to secure qualification for the Grand Final. It all came down to the Grand Final race. The last 16 drivers standing battled for 22 laps around the challenging Dragon Trail – Seaside Circuit to decide who was going home as the 2021 Nations Cup champion. Because points were worth double for this contest, most every player in the field had a mathematical chance to win, but the odds-on favorite was still Valerio Gallo of Italy, who had been dominant in 2021.

It was Gallo and his main rival, Spain’s Jose Serrano who qualified fastest, with Serrano in pole position. The Americas champion, Lucas Bonelli of Brazil started in P3, with Japan’s Takuma Miyazono in 4th. As soon as the green lights flashed, it was Kanata Kawakami of Japan who made the biggest move, getting past countryman Takuma Miyazono on the slower hard-compound tires, and blowing by Bonelli, also on the hards, on the outside after Turn 3. Then Gallo made a textbook pass on Serrano to take the race lead through the hairpin.

On the second lap, Kawakami overtook Serrano for 2nd place through the hairpin corner leading onto the front straight. At the end of this lap, the first pack of drivers made their pitstops, including defending champ Miyazono, Spain’s Coque López and the 2018 champion Igor Fraga of Brazil, who had started in a disappointing P14. While Miyazono and Fraga swapped for the fast soft-compound tires, López opted to save his for the end of the race, going with the mediums.

On lap 7, the leaders came into the pits, with Gallo and Hernandez opting to switch to the soft-compound tires, while Serrano and Andrew Lee of Australia went with the mediums. When they returned to track, Mangano having yet to pit, the real race leader was Miyazono, with Gallo 1.9 seconds behind. In a surprise, Japan’s Ryota Kokubun, who was also running on the soft- compound tires, moved into 4th with Fraga and Serrano behind him.

On lap 9, Gallo showed why he was the one to beat this year, as he masterfully passed Miyazono on the outside of Turn 11 to take the race lead. At the end of lap 10, Miyazono made his final pitstop, going with the mediums. After a series of pitstops the following laps, Miyazono worked his way back up to 4th place, behind Gallo, Hernandez and Mangano, who still had one more pitstop left.

On lap 17, Gallo and 2nd-place Hernandez made their final pitstops to fulfill their stint on the slowest, hard-compound tires. They returned to the track in P2 and P4, respectively, with Miyazono sandwiched between them, and Beauvois in 5th. With only four laps remaining, Gallo, on the hard-compound tires, had to summon all of his skills to hold off Miyazono on the mediums and Beauvois on the softs.

Midway through lap 18, Miyazono passed Gallo through the Turn 11 hairpin, taking the race lead, but Miyazono made a driving error through the chicane, handing the lead right back to the Italian. Then Beauvois overtook Miyazono on lap 19, claiming P2 and his sights set on Gallo’s red Ford GT.

Beauvois drafted Gallo and claimed P1 on the penultimate lap, but his soft-compound tires were worn, allowing Gallo to stay within striking distance throughout the lap. Beauvois briefly lost control of his car through the tricky chicane, giving Valerio Gallo the opening he needed to reclaim the lead. The Italian would not look back, taking the checkered flag and the 2021 Nations Cup championship in dominating fashion. He finished 18 points ahead of runner-up Jose Serrano, who came in 4th in this race, and 22 points in front of 3rd-place Takuma Miyazono. Baptiste Beauvois’ brilliant performance in the Grand Final earned him a 4th-place finish in the series.

Said Gallo after winning his first Nations Cup title, “It was a great Series, being able to take the Nations Cup title, winning four Rounds and the Olympic Virtual Series. Yes, it’s something magical. I really don’t know how to describe my feelings right now because I’ve been discovering myself all year. I want to dedicate this championship to all the people who supported me.”




The leading 12 manufacturers from the second Season of the Online Series were represented by teams of three drivers – one from the EMEA region, one from the Americas and one from Asia-Oceania. World Series points accumulated during 2021 were carried into the World Finals meaning that Team Toyota and Team Mazda entered as favorites equal on 13 points. Each driver would contest one race with a maximum of 12 points on offer for the winners of races one and two and double points for the Grand Final, meaning an upset to the form book was still possible.

Team Toyota’s win on Race 1 around the tricky Lake Maggiore Circuit in Italy increased its points tally to 25 in total, extending its lead over Team Porsche and Team Mazda, both on 17 points. The venue for Race 2 was the tight and tricky Tokyo Expressway - East Outer Loop, at night. With Tomoaki Yamanaka’s win at the wheel of the GR Supra Racing Concept, Team Toyota took a 12-point lead into the Grand Final, with Team Mazda and Team Porsche still lurking in its shadow.

The final race used the 24-hour race layout of the Nürburgring, which meant that one lap stretched for 25.4 km with 170 corners in between. For this five-lap contest, each team was required to run at least one lap on soft-, medium- and hard-compound tires, meaning that the importance of employing the correct pit strategy was magnified. Sitting on pole was Toyota’s ace driver and 2018 Nations Cup champion, Igor Fraga of Brazil. France’s Baptiste Beauvois in the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 started in the number-two spot, with Japan’s Ryota Kokubun in the Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept in P3.

At the start of the race, while Kokubun’s Mazda and Beauvois’s Mercedes-Benz swapped positions twice, Fraga put the hammer down, opening up a 3.7-second lead over the field after one lap. As predicted, the majority of cars that started the race on the hard-compound tires pitted at the end of the maiden lap, with nearly all of them opting to go with the mediums, saving the quickest Michelins (the softs) for their dash to the finish.

The battle between Mercedes-Benz (Beauvois) and Mazda (Kokubun) intensified on lap 2. Kokubun reclaimed P2 and then subsequently left the German car in his dust as he raced after Fraga, who had increased his lead to nearly five seconds. At the end of the second lap, the race leaders all made their pitstops, going with the medium-compound tires, setting the stage for an intriguing finish.

With three laps to go, the running order remained Toyota (Fraga), Mazda (Kokubun), Mercedes-Benz (Beauvois), Jaguar (Tápai) and the BMW M6 GT3 driven by France’s Kévin Belic, with each of them needing to make one last pitstop before the end of the race. At the start of lap 4, Belic in the BMW M6 GT3 passed Tápai’s Jaguar F-Type to claim P4, with his sights set on the Mercedes-Benz AMG of Beauvois, who was about two seconds ahead. The end of the lap saw the Fraga bring his Toyota Supra in for the last time, joined by Kokubun, Beauvois and Tápai. They returned to the track in that order with Fraga maintaining his huge lead.

In the end, a brilliant performance by Igor Fraga scored Toyota the race win and the series title. Ryota Kokubun’s 2nd-place finish handed Mazda an impressive 2nd place in the series championship after an up and down season. Baptiste Beauvois’ drive to 3rd place on track gave Mercedes-Benz 4th place in the series championship, just one point behind Porsche.

After the race, Fraga said, “I’ve been practicing a lot. Back in 2018, it was the same combination of tracks, and it didn’t go so well then, so this time, I had a chance to deliver a better result, and I made the most of it. I must say that pushing the car hard for five laps on that track was mentally exhausting, but it was all well worth it.”

Race 1 winner Coque López added, “Having these two teammates and having a great car to drive made all of this possible. I’m so happy with that we won all three races.”  Race 2 winner Tomoaki Yamanaka said, “I am so very happy. I didn’t believe that things would turn out the way they did, but I feel it was because all three of us did our jobs perfectly, and that’s why we were able to achieve this kind of result.”