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Daring Pit Strategy Proves the Difference in the GR Supra GT Cup Final!
Toyota GR Supra GT Cup 2020 Series

The finals of the One-Make Toyota GR Supra GT Cup proved a fantastic pre-curser to the FIA Gran Turismo Championships 2020 World Finals. 24 players from around the world gathered via video feed to see who was the fastest in the exciting Toyota GR Supra. The competitors—made up of 22 of the top drivers from the Online Series and two who advanced through regional events—were divided into two groups of 12, where they battled one another in a pair of Semi-final races. The top six positions for each race earned points and advanced to the Grand Final, which awarded the top finishers with double points, and the one with the most points at the end of the day would be crowned the 2020 GR Supra GT Cup champion. A 10-minute qualifying session determined the grid order for each race, and Spain’s Jose Serrano started the day off by grabbing the top spot for the first race, while newcomer Jin Nakamura of Japan took the pole for Semi-final B.

Semi-final A

The venue for the Semi-final contests was the scenic Fuji International Speedway in Japan. In this seven-lap sprint, the players were required to run on hard-compound tires for the entire race, meaning there would be no pitstops. Lining up behind pole-sitter Jose Serrano of Spain (PR1_JOSETE) was Rick Kevelham of the Netherlands (HRG_RK23), followed by Valerio Gallo of Italy (Williams_BRacer) and the Europe, Middle East and Africa regional Nations Cup Champion Coque López (Williams_Coque14).

As the 12 Supras rolled through the start line in single-file formation, they exercised caution as the cars looked noticeably twitchy through the first few corners, no thanks to the cold hard-compound tires. As soon as they began their second lap, Gallo looked to lay the hammer down early. Through Turn 1, the Italian braked late and dove into the corner in front of 2nd-place Kevelham, but he carried too much speed into the turn and drifted wide, failing to make the pass. While he remained in 3rd place, Gallo nevertheless kept charging.

At the halfway point of the race, the top five cars began separating themselves from the rest of the field with Serrano in front, followed by Kevelham, Gallo, López, and Ádám Tápai of Hungary (TRL_ADAM18). A bit further down the pack, Carlos Salazar of Portugal (pcm_stj) had his hands full fending off Italy’s Giorgio Mangano (Williams_Gio) in a fight for the all-important 6th place, the last position to qualify for the Grand Final.

At the Turn 6 hairpin of Lap 4, Gallo, intent on taking P2 from Kevelham, made a daring move to the inside. The two cars went side-by-side though the corner, nearly touching as they drove past the apex, but Kevelham maintained his driving line, not letting the feisty Italian through. Then, the other Italian, Mangano, got the best of Salazar, claiming 6th place.

Lap 6 was filled with action as Gallo once again looked to get past Kevelham, braking late into Turn 1. Although he drove right up to the side of Kevelham’s Supra, the Flying Dutchman kept his cool, unwilling to give an inch. Then, on the final lap, the most exciting sequence of the race occurred when Coque López made an aggressive move on Gallo, attempting to pass him on the outside of Turn 15. Gallo wasn’t about to let him by, as they drove side-by-side through the last corner, but López carried a tad more speed onto the main straight, allowing him to shoot past Gallo’s Supra to claim 3rd place, which he took all the way to the finish line. But it was the other Spanish driver, Jose Serrano, who proved to be the man of the hour, taking the chequered flag and 12 points, finishing in front of Rick Kevelham, who grabbed a hard-earned 10 points for his 2nd-place finish.

Rank Driver Time
1 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE 13:28.014
2 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 +00.275
3 Coque López Williams_Coque14 +01.559
4 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer +01.728
5 Ádám Tápai TRL_ADAM18 +01.799
6 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio +02.357
7 Carlos Salazar pcm_stj +03.653
8 Ar Muhammed Aleef LORAleefHamilton +05.433
9 Samet Özsahin GTTY_Samet +05.765
10 Sérgio Fonseca NWS_serfonseca +06.193
11 Luca Lazzari ExP_Luca +11.829
12 Abdulaziz Rayes R-a-y-e-s__ +18.516

Semi-final B

Like the first contest, this race was also a seven-lap sprint around Fuji International Raceway with no required tire changes. The surprise pole-sitter, Jin Nakamura of Japan (EDGE--RS), was sure to feel the heat early as a number of notable names were lined up behind him, including Americas Region champion Lucas Bonelli of Brazil (TGT_BONELLI), Asia-Oceania regional qualifier Tomoaki Yamanaka (yamado_racing38) and ‘World Tour 2020 – Sydney’ champion Takuma Miyazono (Kerrokuma_ej20).
As expected, the action started early as Miyazono, looking to get by countryman Yamanaka through Turn 4 called the 100R, nearly spun on the opening lap. The entire field was tightly spaced, with about three seconds separating the top nine cars.

Lap 2 saw the first pass of the race when Australia’s Daniel Holland (MetalGear9493) got by Mamoru Okada of Japan (APEX-M_Okada) for P6. The running order stayed relatively unchanged for the next several laps, as relative newcomer Nakamura showed the composure and poise of a well-seasoned veteran to hold off all challengers.

On Lap 5, Okada reclaimed 6th place from Holland through the Coca Cola Corner (Turn 3), before setting his sights on the 5-place Supra of Cody Nikola Latkovski of Australia (Nik_Makozi). Meanwhile, Miyazono was climbing all over the red Supra of Yamanaka, desperately looking for a way by him for 3rd place, but Yamanaka held firmly to his racing line and position.

The start of Lap 7 saw Bonelli take a peek to the outside of Nakamura, who immediately shut the door on the Brazilian. Perhaps this lit a fire in Bonelli as he went after Nakamura again through the tricky Turn 6 hairpin, this time taking a more aggressive line and successfully making the pass.

Then, in a finale worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, chaos broke loose at the top of the field, when Nakamura went wide on through Turn 9, allowing Yamanaka to drive up to the side of him. As they sped through the super-tight Dunlop Corner (Turn 10), Yamanaka decided that the time had come to leave it all on the table as he late-braked the opposition, shooting past Nakamura and diving to the inside of race leader Bonelli’s Supra. As they went three-wide though the corner, Yamanaka shot ahead to grab the race lead. As he pulled away, an all-out skirmish broke out behind him, with Miyazono and Latkovski driving up to the back of Bonelli and Nakamura, creating an epic four-way dogfight though the final corners of the track.

When the dust settled, Tomoaki Yamanaka had crossed the finish line first, followed by Bonelli, Nakamura and Latkovski, who managed to squeeze by Miyazono through the last corner. After the race, Jin Nakamura was assessed a devastating 2.0-second penalty for colliding with another car, which put him out of the Grand Final. It was a heartbreaking end to the Japanese driver who had led most of the way, but as the famous adage goes: “That’s racing.”

Rank Driver Time
1 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 13:28.846
2 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI +00.546
3 Cody Nikola Latkovski Nik_Makozi +01.660
4 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 +01.771
5 Mamoru Okada APEX-M_Okada +02.059
6 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +02.321
7 Daniel Holland MetalGear9493 +02.660
8 Jin Nakamura EDGE--RS +03.168
9 Douglas Wilson dctrburdock +03.228
10 Mark Pinnell Turismo-lester +05.381
11 Daniel Solis Px7-Lamb +05.924
12 Nicolas Martin NikoAM19 +06.146

Grand Final

The last event of the day was a 15-lap contest around the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Unlike the Semi-final heat, this race would involve a pit stop strategy as each driver was required to run on the soft-, medium-, and hard-compound tires for a minimum of one lap. And despite the Semi-final victories by Spain’s Jose Serrano and Tomoaki Yamanaka of Japan, the starting grid for the Grand Final was decided by another 10-minute qualifying session, where Serrano once again proved quickest, followed by Takuma Miyazono of Japan and Lucas Bonelli of Brazil.

As soon as the start lights flashed green, it was a mad rush to the first corner. While many of the cars came close to hitting each other fighting for position, they all made it through unscathed. Riding on the soft-compound tires, Serrano, Miyazono, and Bonelli led the way, while those in the middle of the pack—from Australia’s Cody Nikola Latkovski in P4 to Yamanaka in P9—started on the medium-compound Michelins, employing a different pit strategy than the race leaders. By Lap 3, the top three drivers had opened up a 5.0-second cushion on the rest of the field, while Italy’s Giorgio Mangano, who started 5th, suddenly dropped out of the race due to technical issues.

On Lap 4, Angel Inostroza of Chile made a move on Latkovski on the Kemmel Straight, drafting the Aussie and passing him at 250 km/h for 4th place.

The first meaningful pit stops occurred on Lap 8, when the three race leaders came in with a comfortable 13-second gap over 4th-place Latkovski, who enjoyed a 15-second cushion over 5th-place Ádám Tápai of Hungary. Front-runner Jose Serrano opted for the medium-compound tires, as did Lucas Bonelli, but 2nd-place Miyazono, known for his crafty pit stop strategies, went a different route, putting on the hard-compound rubber. When the three cars returned to the track, Serrano immediately began to pull away, while Bonelli ate up Miyazono through the Bus Stop chicane to take over 2nd place. With about a 3.5-second-per-lap difference between the soft- and hard-compound tires, many wondered if Miyazono had made a judgement error by going with the hard-compound Michelins too early. With his sights set on the slower Miyazono, Inostroza, on fresh soft tires, passed Tápai to take 4th place.

On Lap 9, Miyazono pitted for the second time, putting on the medium-compound tires. He returned to the track in 6th place, and with his tire requirements now fulfilled, he planned on going the rest of the way without another stop. Meanwhile, Italy’s Valerio Gallo, who started 7th, continued to climb up the leaderboard as he overtook Inostroza through Les Combes to take sole possession of 3rd place.

With three-quarters of the race in the books, Serrano had a comfortable 2.1-second lead over 2nd-place Bonelli, but they both still needed to fulfil their stint on the hard-compound tires. On Lap 13, the Brazilian blinked first, making his final pit stop. Gallo also pitted, and with Inostroza having pitted a lap earlier, Miyazono had suddenly, and almost magically, found himself in 2nd place.

With just one lap of the race to go, Serrano came in for his final pit stop with a 20-second lead over Miyazono. He all but had the championship in his back pocket because even with a 2nd-place finish, and a Miyazono win, he would have the overall points lead. After swapping tires, the Spaniard returned to the track behind Miyazono... and unbelievably also behind Bonelli! No one expected Serrano to finish in 3rd place, and this promptly reshuffled the entire championship order, dropping him from a championship-winning 16 points to 14 in the blink of an eye, while Miyazono’s point total of 15 would put him in a tie with Bonelli at the top of the rankings and handing the Japanese driver the overall championship because of the Grand Final win.

And that’s exactly how things played out. Miyazono had done it again, shocking everyone with his brilliant pit strategy and pulling off another impressive win. Bonelli also ran strong from start to finish, taking 2nd place in the race and the championship, followed by Serrano in 3rd and his fellow countryman Coque López in 4th.

Said Takuma Miyazono, the newly-crowned 2020 GR Supra GT champion, after the come-from-behind victory: “I’m very happy that everything came together for me. Everyone was so competitive that I feel very fortunate to have come away winning the championship. I’m also happy that my pit strategy worked, but it was very nerve-wracking until the very end. I’m looking forward to taking this momentum into the Nations Cup World Finals.”

Rank Driver Time
1 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 40:43.261
2 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI +03.754
3 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE +04.617
4 Coque López Williams_Coque14 +08.373
5 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer +08.534
6 Cody Nikola Latkovski Nik_Makozi +08.860
7 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 +09.145
8 Ádám Tápai TRL_ADAM18 +09.551
9 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot +09.716
10 Mamoru Okada APEX-M_Okada +21.310
11 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 +22.170
12 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio DNF

Toyota GR Supra GT Cup 2020 Series Results

Rank Driver Semi-Final Grand Final Total Points
1 Takuma Miyazono Kerokkuma_ej20 3 12 15
2 Lucas Bonelli TGT_BONELLI 5 10 15
3 Jose Serrano PR1_JOSETE 6 8 14
4 Coque López Williams_Coque14 4 7 11
5 Tomoaki Yamanaka yamado_racing38 6 4 10
6 Valerio Gallo Williams_BRacer 3 6 9
7 Cody Nikola Latkovski Nik_Makozi 4 5 9
8 Ádám Tápai TRL_ADAM18 2 3 5
9 Rick Kevelham HRG_RK23 5 0 5
10 Angel Inostroza YASHEAT_Loyrot 1 2 3
11 Mamoru Okada APEX-M_Okada 2 1 3
12 Giorgio Mangano Williams_Gio 1 0 1
The GR Supra GT Cup 2020 | Final
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