This past weekend (December 3-5) marked the fourth FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships World Finals and our last on GT Sport before we switch to GT7 next year. This impending change was highlighted as Porsche unveiled their exciting new, all-electric Vision Gran Turismo car for GT7 as part of the Nations Cup broadcast on Sunday. It was also great to see Lewis Hamilton make an appearance to congratulate our 2021 Nations Cup champion.
All in all, the World Finals were a great success again – raced and recorded remotely for the second year in succession. The freedom we have in the series makes it fascinating that we can create very different races in different cars for the finals, and those scenes really make an impression. You can also identify the different characters of our competitors.
It really struck me at the weekend how high the level of the competitors has become. All of them are so fast, and so it all comes down to very small margins, having the strength to drive 100% for the whole race and, dare I say, a little bit of good luck at times.
The weekend started on Friday with the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup. While not part of the official Championships, close action is always guaranteed in the Toyota GR Yaris and new GR86 cars. The final race around the famous Circuit de la Sarthe saw experienced Japanese driver Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) take victory by a mere four-tenths of a second from last year’s champion, Takuma Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20). It was also very pleasing to see another Japanese driver, Rikuto Kobayashi (TX3_tokari71), take third. Not because he is Japanese, but because he is only 16 years old and a really exciting prospect for the years to come.
Saturday’s Manufacturer Series World Finals was set to be another really exciting climax to the Series with Team Toyota and Team Mazda tied on points after the World Series events this year.
In the end, Mazda could do nothing in the face of three impeccable performances from Team Toyota’s Igor Fraga of Brazil (IOF_RACING17), Coque López of Spain (coqueIopez14) and Japan’s Tomoaki Yamanaka. For Fraga and Yamanaka it was their second Manufacturer Series victory for Toyota, having lifted the Boccioni-inspired trophy in 2019.
López started them off with victory in Race 1 on the Autodrome Lago Maggiore – GP II before Yamanaka – starting from the pole secured thanks to the Race 1 victory – drove beautifully and benefited from taking a different tyre strategy to the rest of the field to win on the Tokyo Expressway – East Outer Loop. Igor Fraga has shown himself to be a huge fan of the Nürburgring 24h circuit, and he held his concentration, and the lead, throughout the five laps of the 25.4km track. You can hear on the team radio that these three compete very much as a team and work hard for each other behind the wheel or working on strategy.
Team Mazda finished the year second in the points standings having found it hard to come back from a disappointing seventh place in the opening race, despite taking third in Race 2 and second in Race 3. Rounding out the top three was Team Porsche with a single point advantage over fourth-placed Mercedes-Benz.