Gran Turismo World Series 2022: Showdown in Monaco – The final of the top 22
The temperatures in Monaco were almost summer-like when the world finale of the Gran Turismo World Series took place in the posh Le Sporting Monte Carlo last weekend to mark the 25th anniversary of the successful racing series. For the first time since 2019, the top-class e-sports event was held in front of an audience again. The best drivers from all over the world, who qualified for the grand finale over the course of the season via online races and the World Series Showdown in Salzburg, fought exciting, mostly really dramatic races for the prestigious Nations Cup.
I don’t let myself be deterred by the bright blue sky and the dreamy backdrop of the Monegasque coastal landscape and dive straight into the racing action last Friday. After all, weeks in advance I was looking forward to being there live as 30 talented Gran Turismo pilots master the tracks in dream times, where I’ve been trying to achieve even halfway acceptable lap times on the PS5 at home for months. The day before, a title had already been awarded in the final of the GR Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup, which the Brazilian Igor Fraga was able to claim for himself.
Fraga also successfully competed in the Regional Finals, where competitors from each of three world regions, Asia/Oceania, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and North and South America, qualified for the World Finals. Among the participants was only one woman, Emily Jones from Australia. By the way, there was no potential successor from Germany for the Nations Cup winner 2019 Mikail Hizal, unfortunately no pilot could qualify for the preselection this time.
I spoke to Mikail and asked for tips on how to launch a Gran Turismo career in style. Talent isn’t even that important, but of course it can’t do any harm, he explains to me. But in his opinion, motivation comes first. At the age of 14 he was given a PlayStation with Gran Turismo, was immediately enthusiastic that he could now at least virtually drive cars that you hardly ever see on the streets and then stayed true to the game through all generations of consoles.
He just had fun with the simulation and developed the ambition to compete with other players who already have a lot more experience. If you have fun and set yourself small, achievable goals, such as improving your lap times over and over again, then success will come automatically over time and motivation will remain. Just having fun is the driving force behind better performance for him. It doesn’t matter to him whether you play with the gamepad or get a racing seat with an expensive steering wheel and pedal set. He refers to participants in the World Finals who are playing Gran Turismo with a steering wheel for the first time and have mastered all qualifying rounds with the controller.
Mikail gives a comprehensible explanation for the decision not to compete in competitions anymore after his considerable successes, he won the Toyota GR GT Cup and the Nations Cup in 2019 and the Manufacturers Cup in 2020: He wants to concentrate on his studies and his professional future. The time investment, especially before important tournaments, is so intensive that both cannot be reconciled. But Mikail doesn’t want to swear off Gran Turismo, he loves the scene too much for that. Thanks to his experience, he’s even gotten a job at Polyphony Digital, his dream employer, and won’t miss a single event in the foreseeable future. If you are interested in the full interview with Mikail Hizal, be sure to check out the linked video.
But after the little digression back to the event. On Saturday, the Manufacturers Cup was on the program, in which 12 teams, each with three drivers, competed virtually for an automobile manufacturer. The race was on the Circuit de Spa Francorchamps and the Subaru team with the international pilots Kylian Drumont from France, Takuma Miyazono from Japan and the US American Daniel Solis. Ultimately, the team owes a good deal of its success to this, because after the last driver change, Solis steadily worked his way up from position five to the front and then never gave up the victory.
The first highlight on Sunday, the last day of the event, was the ceremonial unveiling of the Ferrari Vision Gran Turismo. In doing so, the Italian super sports car manufacturer followed Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi’s call and now presented its own vision for the 25th anniversary of the series. The team led by chief designer Flavio Manzoni has been working with Polyphony Digital for more than two years on the concept vehicle, which is trimmed for maximum performance, and is, by their own admission, completely enthusiastic about the implementation of the car in the game.
You can buy the 350 km/h fast, extremely streamlined car from December 23rd. – a week earlier if you have completed the Worlds Finals Viewer campaign – also drive in Gran Turismo 7 or plan a trip to Modena by March next year and see the jewel in full size at the Ferrari Maranello Museum. Incidentally, the Ferrari Vision GT is controlled with a force feedback steering wheel, the design of which was inspired by game controllers and racing wheels.
I didn’t have much time to enjoy the flowing, organic shapes of the car as it was time for the Nations Cup grand finale and the top 12 qualifying drivers were up for the title. 30 laps were driven on the Trial Mountain Circuit Reverse and it was important to note that all three types of tires had to be used with soft, medium and hard rubber compounds. That means at least two pit stops to change tires and the question: which tires is best to start with, because the hard tires noticeably reduce the top speed.
The Japanese Takuma Miyazono, who also dominated a large part of the race, started from pole position, followed by the Spaniard Coque López in second place, followed by Angel Inostroza from Chile, who impressively demonstrated his driving skills in the qualification. By the 28th lap, Miyazono, who had already won the Nations Cup in 2020, secured first position by a razor-thin margin.
In the last laps there was pure drama, when there were always daring overtaking maneuvers and Miyazono, López and Inostroza took turns at the top position almost every second. After a final pit stop, the trio fought a dogged fight, Miyazono skidded after a vehicle contact, dropped to third place and López passed the leading Inostroza by a hair’s breadth in the tunnel and won by a few tenths.
The 23-year-old Spaniard is still not celebrating because there was contact with Inostroza’s car, which the stewards first have to check for any irregularities. There are no objections: after an exciting race, López is the deserved winner of the Nations Cup and celebrates, while Takuma Miyazono has to digest the narrow defeat and remains in his seat for a long time with a stony face. If you want to watch the thrilling finale in full, you can find the race, expertly commented by Florian Strauss and Michel Wolk, on Gran-Turismo.com. Believe me, it’s worth it. In any case, I’m already looking forward to the coming season, hopefully with more such top-class e-sports events in front of an audience again, because the noticeable enthusiasm of everyone involved is simply contagious.