Race Report

An Underdog's Triumph Sparks Jubilation Amidst Tears of Disappointment for the Rest

Gran Turismo World Series World Finals 2023 - Manufacturers Cup

BARCELONA, Spain (December 2, 2023) – Following a truly exciting first day of the Gran Turismo World Series 2023 World Finals—held at the Fira Barcelona in the picturesque city of Barcelona—where newcomer and hometown favorite Pol Urra of Spain took away the sole individual championship of the weekend, Day 2 saw the much-anticipated matchup of the world’s leading car makers go at each other in the Manufacturers Cup. The thrilling lineup featured 12 powerhouse teams, headlined by official sponsors Toyota, Mazda, and Genesis. Each manufacturer was represented by the best drivers from the Asia-Oceania, Americas, and Europe/Africa/Middle East regions. Unlike previous years, the players were required to navigate through a Qualifying Time Trial, followed by a high-stakes Qualifying Race that culminated in the all-important Grand Final. Each team designated one driver for the Qualifying Time Trial and Qualifying Race, while the Grand Final demanded the participation of all three team members.

The favorites going into the weekend were perennial powerhouses Subaru and Toyota, while Porsche looked to ride the momentum of its amazing win at the World Series Showdown, marking the return of driver Angel Inostroza of Chile (Veloce_Loyrot), who missed the previous round due to injury; however, those familiar with the Gran Turismo World Series know that it’s impossible to predict what will happen until the checkered flag is waved. And indeed, this memorable day was filled with twists and turns not only on the race track itself, but with the drama that unfolded within its borders.

Qualifying Race: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya GP Layout

The first of the two races, the Qualifying Race, determined the grid order for the Grand Final. Here, each team designated one driver to run the eight-lap race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, located only 15 miles from the venue. This one was a sprint, where no tire changes or pitstops were required, so pure, unadulterated speed was the name of the game.

Starting from pole position was Team Toyota’s GR Supra, followed by Subaru, BMW, Nissan, and McLaren. Oddly enough, Porsche was once again running a two-man team, as Japanese driver Takuma Sasaki (SZ_TakuAn22) was unable to make the trip to Spain. After the start, the first to make its move was the Genesis X GR3, driven by Nicolas Romero (ERM_NicoRD), jumping from P6 to P5 on the first lap. By lap 3, the Toyota GR Supra, driven by Coque López (coquelopez14), and the Subaru BRZ GT300, piloted by Takuma Miyazono (Kerokkuma_ej20), showed why they were favored to win the championship, as they began pulling away from the rest of the pack. Meanwhile, dark horses, Team Nissan with Mateo Esteves (PRiMA_Hyperz) in the Nismo GT-R GT3, and Team BMW with Seiya Suzuki (LUA_CRV-86) at the wheel of the M6 GT3, fought valiantly for P3 for most of the race, with the M6 getting the best of the GT-R on the final straight.

But in the end, it was Toyota and Subaru that dominated this contest, finishing 1-2, respectively, by more than four seconds. That said, the Qualifying Race did show that Nissan, BMW, Genesis, and Lamborghini were ready to battle, as they displayed not only excellent speed, but the heart of a warrior, battling with everything they had until the very end.

Gran Turismo World Series World Finals 2023 - Manufacturers Cup
Qualifying Race Results

Rank Manufacturer / Drivers Time
1 Toyota Coque López 13:28.250
2 Subaru Takuma Miyazono +00.146
3 BMW Seiya Suzuki +04.020
4 Nissan Mateo Estevez +04.652
5 Genesis Nicolas Romero +05.288
6 Lamborghini Will Murdoch +05.490
7 McLaren Koki Mizuno +05.882
8 Renault Alex López Murillo +05.955
9 Porsche Angel Inostroza +06.319
10 Mazda Hiroshi Okumoto +06.535
11 AMG Lucas Bonelli +08.556
12 Honda João Pessôa +09.448

Grand Final: Nürburgring 24h Layout

With the starting grid of the Grand Final of the Manufacturers Cup set, the teams lined up to put everything on the line for the last race of the day at the historic Nürburgring 24-hour layout. Because one lap here is roughly 15 miles (25 km)—and more than 89 corners!—the race consisted of only five laps, but each team was required to field all three of their drivers. And, although they were free to choose their desired tires, every team opted to start the race on the Intermediates, as a heavy downpour had made the track surface a slippery affair.

The rolling start saw every driver exercising caution not looking to make any major moves in the hazardous conditions. As the race went on, Team Lamborghini, with American Randall Haywood (Dstinct_Crimson) at the wheel, showed it was here to battle, quickly moving up to 3rd place and pressuring the Subaru BRZ of Takuma Miyazono for P2. Also in the mix was the Nissan GT-R of Mehdi Hafidi (ERM_Mehdi59).

Unfortunately, Haywood lost control of his Lamborghini Huracán on the slick surface, slamming into a barrier and dropping all the way down to 9th place. A bit later, it was the Supra’s turn to become a victim of the wet track, as Rikuto Kobayashi (TX3_tokari71) lost control of his car through the Carousel and dropping Team Toyota to last place!

At the beginning of lap 2, Haywood in the Lamborghini Huracán, who worked his way back up the running order, passed the Nissan to claim P2, then a few corners later, made a daring move to the outside of the Subaru BRZ to take the overall lead!

As the sun began to peek through the clouds, the race action remained intense, with every car within each other by less than a second. The cars making biggest moves through the first half of lap 2 were the Mazda RX Vision—driven by Robert Heck (SV-RobbyHeck) of America—which climbed to 4th place, and the Mercedes-AMG GT3, piloted by Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) that moved up five spots to P6.

At the end of lap 2, Nissan slipped past Lamborghini to claim P1, right before every car dove into the pits to switch drivers and tires. With the track conditions dry, every team took on the racing slicks. While five of the teams designated their number-three driver for one lap, some of them threw their ace behind the wheel for a two-lap stint. Among them was Nissan, with Ryota Kokubun (Akagi_1942mi), looking to build on their lead before handing the driving duties off to Mateo Esteves (PRiMA_Hyperz). At the beginning of lap 3, the running order was Nissan, Genesis, Subaru, and Mazda.

On this lap, Roberto Sternberg (RVT_AMAROK23) of Team Subaru briefly lost control of his BRZ when he drove over the wet part of the track, dropping his position from P2 to P10 place in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile, Nissan had opened up a 4.0-second lead, followed by the Genesis X GR3, driven by Nico Romero (ERM_NicoRD), the Mazda RX Vision with Hiroshi Okumoto (HIROGRAND_1009) behind the wheel and Lucas Bonelli’s (RVT_BONELLI) Mercedes-AMG GT3.

At the end of lap 4, the remaining seven teams made their final pitstops. Nissan came in with an 8.5-second lead, but the question was: Would that be enough to hold off those who saved their fastest drivers for last? Hot upon the GT-R’s heels were the Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Baptiste Beauvois (R8G_TSUTSU), the Honda NSX with João Cláudio Santos Pessôa (MYTH_JoaoSof) behind the wheel.

As the gap between the leader Nissan GT-R and the rest of the field shrank to about two seconds, it was clear that those in pursuit were pushing their machines to their very limits… and at some point something was bound to break, right? Indeed. While Honda, BMW, and Mazda battled for the final spot on the podium, contact between the M6 GT3 and the NSX caused a major accident that ended up taking the two cars out of contention! Mazda suffered too, allowing Genesis to move into 3rd place. And that’s how it ended, with Team Nissan taking its first Manufactures Cup title, followed by Mercedes-AMG, and Genesis.

Mehdi Hafidi, who started the race for Team Nissan said, “I didn’t know what was going on behind me at the start, I was trying to get past as many cars as I could. I felt confident in the wet conditions, and things paid off quite well.”

The Michelin Driver of the Day, Ryota Kokubun, who opened up a huge lead in the middle part of the race added, “I just wanted to build up as big of a lead as possible for Mateo, and thankfully, I was able to do that.”

Mateo Esteves concluded by saying, “I was just trying to concentrate on the last lap, I was nervous, and it was pretty chaotic, but we were able to come away with the win.”

Gran Turismo World Series World Finals 2023 - Manufacturers Cup
Grand Final Results

Rank Manufacturer / Drivers Time
1 Nissan Ryota Kokubun 44'02.063
2 AMG Lucas Bonelli +01.761
3 Genesis Dean Heldt +05.107
4 Mazda Pol Urra +08.058
5 Toyota Adriano Carrazza +09.319
6 Subaru Takuma Miyazono +10.977
7 Porsche Jose Serrano +11.366
8 BMW Calen Roach +12.040
9 Honda Soki Nabetani +16.360
10 McLaren Donovan Parker +18.098
11 Renault Guy Barbara +18.313
12 Lamborghini Will Murdoch +18.720

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