Takuma Miyazono won his maiden Gran Turismo World Tour event in dramatic fashion, beating local favourite Cody Latkovski by just 0.032 seconds, while BMW dominated in the Manufacturer Series.
Miyazono and Latkovski entered the event as the highest-ranked drivers yet to win a round of the Nations Cup – GT Sport’s individual series.
2019 title protagonists Mikail Hizal and Igor Fraga’s absence from the 2020 season opener due to clashing commitments provided Miyazono and Latkovski’s best chance yet of a maiden win.
In the all-or-nothing deciding race in Red Bull X2019s, Miyazono opted for an unconventional three-stop strategy while Latkovski stuck with the traditional two-stop.
It culminated in a thrilling chase in the closing laps of the race as Miyazono hunted down Latkovski on his fresher rubber.
On the penultimate lap of the race, Miyazono made the move stick on Latkovski and assumed the lead of the race.
However, Latkovski refused to give up and went side-by-side with the Japanese driver on multiple occasions throughout the final lap.
A brush with the barriers through the high-speed chicane complex for Miyazono gifted Latkovski a chance at the final corner.
Australian racer Latkovski tried to hang it around the outside but ultimately fell just 0.032s short of his maiden victory.
Jonathan Wong dominated his semi-final and led the first half of the race before Latkovski passed him at the first chicane of the fictional ‘Dragon Trail’ circuit.
Wong opted to run the soft tyre in the middle stint unlike Latkovski, who switched to the hard tyre and disposed of them after a single lap. Wong ultimately ended up a distant third.
Veloce Esports’ Baptiste Beauvois defeated Miyazono in the first semi-final with an inspired strategy call, but a clash with his Veloce team-mate Rayan Derrouiche in the final ended both their chances.
Williams Esports driver Patrik Blazsan could have also challenged for the race win, but a high-speed crash through the chicane complex dropped him out of contention.
His Williams team-mate Coque Lopez was a part of the Manufacturer Series winning team along with Nicolas Rubilar and Randall Haywood on Saturday.
The trio represented BMW and dominated to take wins in both races.
An announcement regarding the rest of the 2020 GT Sport World Tour calendar is expected in the coming weeks.