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A Tremendous Turn-Around! Brazil’s Igor Fraga (IOF_RACING17) Crowned the First Nations Cup Champion!
FIA Gran Turismo Championships 2018 World Finals / Nations Cup

The final race in the four-race series pit the drivers in a one-make race in the Red Bull X2014 Standard, a car that will really shows us what the driver is truly capable of.

Heading into the race, point leader Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) from Japan started out in pole position.

On the other hand, Brazil’s Igor Fraga (IOF_RACING17), who had some trouble breaking into the upper ranks after the first race, started out in tenth.

The front runners started out on the first lap in soft tyres.

On the Mulsanne Straight, Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) lost his lead position, as Australian Cody Nikola Latkovski (Nik_Makozi) and Germany’s Mikail Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING) made great use of Yamanaka’s slipstream to sling on past.

And as if Yamanaka’s day couldn’t get any worse, on the second lap, while having to slow down to lose the penalty for a previous shortcut, fellow countryman Shogo Yoshida (gilles_honda_v12) passed by, dropping Yamanaka to fourth place.

At the Porsche Curve, Latkovski (Nik_Makozi) was able to overtake Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING), placing him at the top.

On lap three, front runners Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING) and Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) made a pit stop. Latkovski (Nik_Makozi) remained on the track but then headed in to the pits on lap four, with his overcutting strategy bearing no fruit in the end. After Latkovski (Nik_Makozi) made it out of the pits, Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING) was quick to recover his place at the top.

Meanwhile, Fraga (IOF_RACING17) had manage to claw his way up to fourth place, and switched from hard tyres to medium, deciding to keep his soft tyres for the final stint.

While Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) made some changes in the pit, Fraga (IOF_RACING17) managed to creep up out of nowhere.

On the fifth lap, Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) was overpowered by the Brazilian duo and dropped into fifth place behind Fraga (IOF_RACING17) and Adriano Carrazza (CRT-Didico15).

Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) had a disastrous accident, plunging him further into despair. Coming into contact with Canadian driver Jeffrey Gallan (FT_LLOYDZELITE), Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) plummeted to eleventh place, shattering his hopes of taking home the title.

On lap six, the top three drivers, Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING), Latkovski (Nik_Makozi) and Fraga (IOF_RACING17), headed into the pits almost simultaneously. But, of the top three, Fraga (IOF_RACING17) was the only one with soft tyres available.

From this point on the outcome of the race was pretty much set in stone.

On the eighth lap at the Dunlop Curve, Fraga (IOF_RACING17) slipped by Latkovski (Nik_Makozi), bagging him second place. And it became quickly apparent that nothing was going to stand in the way of the Brazilian champion, as he then overtook front runner Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING) at Mulsanne.

Finally, Fraga (IOF_RACING17) stood on top. His persistence to win the title and his marvellous climb from tenth place whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

The strategy that many drivers employed in the Regional Finals, of reducing fuel to lighten their cars, and saving their soft tyres for the final stint, all came together here spectacularly for Fraga.

Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING) and Latkovski (Nik_Makozi), in their hard tyres, had no hope of keeping up.

After a long and arduous battle, Fraga (IOF_RACING17) crossed the finish line in first place.

After some disappointing results in race two and three, Fraga had to face and overcome Yamanaka’s (yamado_racing38) staggering lead going into the final race.

But, regardless of starting way down in tenth place, playing to his strengths on the straights with the X2014 and using a different tyre strategy to those at the top, he was able to snatch the victory.
Being the final race and worth double points, a win here was enough to propel Fraga (IOF_RACING17) to the top of the table, and for him to be crowned the inaugural Nations Cup champion.

Hizal (TRL_LIGHTNING) finished the race in second place, meaning that he finished overall in second as the top driver from Europe.

Finishing third was Latkovski (Nik_Makozi), also securing a spot in the top three overall as the best driver from the Asia/Oceania group.

Yamanaka (yamado_racing38), who was in such a promising position going in to the last race, unfortunately wound up finishing in tenth place, dropping him in the overall rankings down to fourth.

“In the end I wasn’t quite as skilled with the X2014 as the top three drivers. My aim going in to the race was just to not lose any positions at the start. I never imagined I would fall so far,” said a forlorn Yamanaka after the race.

Nations Cup Final - Result

(Overall Victory) Brazil’s Igor Fraga (IOF_RACING17)

I got off to a good start coming out first in race one.

As the others were battling it out for second place, I was able to keep hold of my lead from start to finish.

However, in race two, I was in a car that really took a toll on my tyres.

In the latter half of the race, I was desperately trying to hold off Yamanaka to protect my position, but in the end, I wasn’t able to stop him.

As a result of that struggle I wound up dropping places, falling into fourth place right before the finish line.

And in race three, my pace dropped drastically. And with my strategy backfiring, I finished up in tenth.

Based on that performance, I went into the final race starting out on the grid in tenth. And to add to that, Yamanaka, who was sitting at the top for points, also started out in pole position.

But I resolved to continue to do my best.

Before the race, I decided that even if I couldn’t make it all the way up to first place, I still wanted to give the race my all.

In the end my tyre strategy paid off and I managed to finish in first, winning the Nations Cup. I’m absolutely ecstatic.

“Don’t give up, do your best”, that thought is what drove me to that last race victory, tipping the scales back in my favour for the best possible outcome.

It’s an absolute honour to be here in Monaco creating a new chapter in Gran Turismo’s history.

This place is very special, with many of the greatest drivers of all time having driven here. Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Schumacher, Nelson Piquet, Niki Lauda.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to join that list of legends, but I’m happy to be here in Monaco and to have been able to come out on top in this E-sport competition.

For those players at home, watching this tournament and wanting to be in the same position as you, what advice do you have?
It would be to practise tirelessly and build up your skill level and mental fortitude.

You may not be the fastest driver now, but you never know what’s on the horizon.

I wonder if this is all there is to it, but by just taking it one day at a time, you could very well become the next best driver.

Keep polishing those skills and discover and conquer your weakness, that’s what’s key.

- In your case, you’re also a racer on real tracks as well as virtual ones, what would you say are the differences?

I don’t feel like they’re all that different. Things I’ve learnt racing on real tracks have helped me on virtual ones and things I’ve learnt in virtual races have definitely influenced my driving on real tracks.

Another thing with virtual racing is that, just like in real motor sports, your physical condition plays a big part. Making sure you get enough sleep before a race, being careful about what you eat on the big day, not eating too much just before the race, grabbing a light bite if you’re hungry and clearing your mind. I think taking care of these things and entering the race in prime condition is really important.

As the champion, where do you see yourself going from here?
At the moment I’m also a real race driver, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue competing in the world of E-Sports.

I want to make the most of my experiences here and take what I’ve learnt and take part in a real motorsport race series.

However, E-Sports are currently getting bigger and bigger. There’s no knowing what it will be like years from now.

I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be able to compete next year, but I’m sure I’ll continue enjoying Gran Turismo for sometime still.

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