Subaru overcame the absence of its lead driver to claim victory at the Gran Turismo World Series Showdown and establish a four-point lead in this season’s championship.
Kylian Drumont and Daniel Solis led a measured tactical race to win against Mercedes-AMG by almost four seconds, despite being a man down after double 2020 world champion Takuma Miyazono had to miss the event for cause of illness.
Indeed Miyazono was one of the three pilots absent, after returning a positive control before flying. Nicolas Romero (Genesis) and Arnoldo Daetz (Mazda) both tested positive at the event, with only Romero being replaced as Manuel Rodriguez – the second European Genesis driver – was also present at the event for the Nations Cup of tomorrow.
That seemed to leave all three brands struggling for pace in qualifying, led by Baptiste Beauvois for the AMG team. He was almost four tenths ahead of the BMW of Erik Cases, Roberto Sternberg by making a German 1-2-3 with Volkswagen.
More drama was expected to come early, as what was expected to be the longest race in Gran Turismo live event history had to be abandoned after just three laps.
An unspecified technical fault saw the cars gradually become prone to further and further delay, with two started entirely from the concourse. This brought out the red flag and almost 45 minutes of investigation and reset.
When the race was able to start for the second and final time, it was the soft-soled cars that quickly took the lead. Adriano Carrazza quickly moved the Chevrolet past the Volkswagen, before hanging on to Cases’ rear as he sent the BMW past Kazuki Cho in the AMG.
With each car required to use each tire category for at least 14 consecutive laps, the wisdom of starting a heavy, fuel-filled car on soft tires began to evaporate towards the end of the stint. Carrazza had hit the front on lap seven, but the six-second gap created by the front two began to bleed as the softs wore and Drumont – after passing Cho – kept his pace on the mediums.
Sure enough, with the Subaru hanging off the back of the BMW at the end of lap 14, the leaders came to a halt. This promoted Subaru to the lead, almost eight seconds ahead of Porsche, as four other cars elected to stop at the same time.
Disaster then strikes Porsche. After switching from Angel Inostroza to Connor Healy, the ride rig appeared to experience a hardware failure, with the 911 rocking hard on the track and crashing out twice. This ultimately resulted in the abandonment of the race.
Meanwhile, Toyota and Mazda were running for a long time on the hard tyres, with Nikita Moysov and Giorgio Mangano respectively opting to pit on lap 20 – stalling two 14-lap stints on the soft and medium each.
With that resolved, Chevrolet retook the lead from the now Daniel Solis-clad Subaru, widening the gap from six seconds to over eight. However, it was now Igor Fraga who split the field in the Toyota on soft tyres. As Chevrolet stopped on lap 28, Toyota then hit the front.
Subaru then made a surprisingly early final stop for the soft tyres, Drumont taking over the wheel in Miyazono’s absence. Emerging in ninth position, it looked like he had a lot of work to do, but with everyone around him except Chevrolet needing to pit again – and most were on or for less grippy tires – the Subaru quickly moved up the order.
With all the final stops made on lap 34, it was Ryota Kokubun in the Toyota ahead of the Subaru and Lucas Bonelli on the soft-tire AMG, all covered by three seconds.
It wasn’t enough to keep Toyota in the lead, with Subaru even overtaking before the end of the lap, and AMG after just a lap later – setting up a thrilling final battle between Drumont and Bonelli, or the top end of the race. ‘AMG and the medium-paced cornering prowess of the BRZ.
While Bonelli was able to make a few breakthroughs, sometimes closing within a second, Drumont was able to manage the pace and didn’t give up. Indeed, as the AMG wore out its tires in the chase, the Subaru managed to restore a three-second gap to the finish line.
A little further on, Toyota came less than half a lap from losing third place to Mazda as Mangano caught Kokubun at one second per lap, but couldn’t line up the killer pass.
Remarkably, Nissan managed to clinch fifth place after a dreadful 12th in qualifying and a very calm race, with Volkswagen taking the final World Series point in sixth while Chevrolet fell on the final stint on hard tires to finish seventh.
The result means Subaru is undefeated this season and now has nine points. Mercedes-AMG’s runner-up finish moves them into second with five points, while Toyota is tied for third with Nissan with four points. With three points for a victory at a World Series online event, Subaru is guaranteed to lead until at least the third round.
- Subaru – 9 points
- Mercedes-AMG – 5 points
- Toyota- 4 points
- Nissan- 4 points
- Mazda- 3 points
- Volkswagen – 1 point
- Genesis – 1 point
After all the excitement of the Manufacturers Cup, the Nations Cup event will take place on Sunday, July 31, starting at 1900 UTC.
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