Gran Turismo and esports is a combination that just works so well. GT have been running the Nations Cup for years now, and the event is an officially sanctioned FIA competition. Last night we saw a new champion crowned during the final of the 2021 event.
Valerio Gallo became the fourth champion from a fourth country to win the Nations Cup in four years. This shows how much of an international event the Nations Cup is, but how did Gallo do it? Here's a brief rundown of the action.
The Nations Cup takes place on Gran Turismo Sport and the finals are split into three semi-finals and a grand final. A total of 32 drivers qualified for the Nations Cup final and they were placed in their semi-final groups based on which part of the world they're located in.
This meant that ten Asia-Oceania finalists raced in Semi-Final A for five final spots, the 13 European drivers in Semi-Final B for six, and the nine Americas representatives in Semi-Final C for the last five places.
The 32 drivers originated from the 16 drivers from the World Series Showdown and a group of 16 qualifiers from Online Stage 2.
Semi-final A saw the defending champion Takuma Miyazono win on the line after a thrilling few laps. Tomoaki Yamanaka, who had been fastest up until this point, was given a penalty for contact with Guy Barbara, which ended both their chances.
Also to qualify was the opportunistic Matthew McEwen, Andrew Lee, Kanata Kawakami, with Ryota Kokubun taking the final spot.
Semi-final B was the European event had some of the top scorers to this point in its line-up. Monza's tight chicanes tripped up a bunch of drivers, with Coque Lopez profiting to soar from 12th to fifth by the end of the opening lap.
The hard tyres were just not working and everybody bar Lopez - who had started on mediums - peeled into the pits at the end of lap one. Lopez would stop towards the end of the race and finish third, an excellent effort. Gallo won after putting in a fine move on Mangano on the final lap. Baptiste, Beauvoid, and Blazsan also qualified.
Semi-final C was the Americas group have five drivers competing for just one qualification spot. Lucas Bonelli would end up taking the victory after a topsy-turvy contest which saw penalties galore.
This was it; it all came down to this final event. After the semi-finals, Gallo sat on 30 points, with Serrano his nearest challenger on 22. Fraga sat on 17, with Lopez, Miyazono, and Kokubun all on 16 just behind.
Realistically, Serrano had to win and hope Gallo didn't finish behind him. That appeared to be possible as well, with Serrano qualifying on pole. However, this wouldn't last as Serrano ran too deep into the first corner and allowed Gallo to take the lead.
In the final stages, Beauvois took the lead after starting last but sadly couldn't hold in together on old soft tyres. Gallo would pick up the pieces and win both the final and the championship.
A dominant season
Gallo was nothing short of incredible in 2021. The Italian racer won seven of the eleven GT Nations Cup events that he took part in this year. Gallo also led the championship on points before this round, so nobody can deny that he isn't a worthy champion. Gallo took to Twitter to celebrate his achievement:
It takes one to know one as well, as seven-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton was on-hand to congratulate Gallo. Hamilton also stated that he can't wait to see GT Nations Cup events return to in-person competitions. Let's hope that comes our way in 2022 to celebrate the release of Gran Turismo 7.
Something that also needs to be mentioned was the much-anticipated full reveal of the Porsche Vision GT. The GT concept car was confirmed to be revealed last month but we finally got to see it in all its glory last night. We've got everything you need to know about this vehicle in our piece here.