GAZOO Racing (GR) GT Cup Asia 2023: Bold strategies pay off for new Asia champion Andika Rama

The GAZOO Racing (GR) GT Cup Asia 2023 played out across three heart-thumping races on Sunday, 24 September 2023. E-motorsports enthusiasts saw 15 local qualifiers – from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – pit their driving skills, dexterity, and wits against one another, as they battled for the regional championship title and a spot in the Global Finals.

This year’s GR GT Cup Asia saw a change in race format where all regional finalists participated in a total of three races on PlayStation®’s “Gran Turismo 7”. The first race, played on Mount Panorama with GT Supra Gr.4 cars, began with a 5-minute time attack as a qualifying round to determine grid positions, followed by a 15-minute race. The second race on the Tokyo Expressway – East Clockwise track was played with Race 1’s grid positions reversed using GR Corolla cars over a 25-minute race time. The third and final race, played on the legendary Spa Francorchamps racetrack with GR010 Hybrid Hypercars, once again began with a 5-minute time attack qualifying round, before concluding with a 35-minute race amidst dynamic weather. The championship was determined from cumulative points earned through finishing positions in all three races, the first five positions in qualifying rounds, and bonus points for the fastest laps in each of the three races. At the end of the competition, the two highest scoring finalists will proceed to the Global Finals, slated for November in Barcelona, Spain.

Indonesia’s Andika Rama came out tops with a total of 65 points throughout the competition. Slow and steady won Rama the race, with the seasoned racer clocking 4th and 5th places in Race 1 and 2 before boldly claiming pole position in Race 3 by maximizing his time on track against increasingly bad weather. The Philippines’ Luis Moreno similarly bided his time, securing 6th and 4th place in earlier races before scorching to pole position in Race 3’s qualifying round, and maintaining his podium spot in the race to come out overall second in the championship with 52 points. Singapore’s Fadtris Isa and Malaysia’s Dhanesh Wigneswaran also performed remarkably, although several misjudgments in weather and pitting put them further down on the championship table.

“I knew that my pace in the final race was not as good as Luis and Dhanesh, so even though it started to rain, the wetness on track was low, I gambled on another two laps with hard tires while everyone went to pit. I tried to manage my pace after pitting, and it paid off,” Rama recounted elatedly. “I’m thankful to my family, friends, and fans who are here watching me live or online at home, and of course grateful to Toyota Indonesia for supporting us all the way. I look forward to racing with Luis at the Global Finals against our Italian and Japanese peers.”

Aside from the revised race format keeping things fresh for spectators, the fourth season of the GR GT Cup Asia in 2023 continues to underscore Toyota’s commitment in making e-motorsports accessible across generations, by enabling racing enthusiasts from around the region to experience the thrill and joy of competitive racing. Fans and participants were also treated to a visual feast of fascinating livery designs inspired by each participating country’s national colors.

“We are thrilled to see strong, continued support for the fourth edition of the GAZOO Racing GT Cup Asia. All racers displayed exceptional skills that were spectacularly demonstrated, even across the various racing conditions. We hope that GR Asia brought a thrilling evening of entertainment to E-motorsports fans around the region, particularly with our all-new race format and colorful livery designs displayed throughout the competition,” said Jaja Ishibashi, General Manager at Toyota Motor Asia Pacific. “My heartiest congratulations to all racers for a putting up a wonderful race today, and all the best to Andika Rama and Luis Moreno for the upcoming Global Finals.”

Andika Rama and Luis Moreno will represent Asia and race against some of the world’s best e-Motorsport racers in the TGR GT Global Finals slated for November.

Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) shares their pride as it congratulates Luis Moreno and the rest of Team Philippines who all worked hard in the GT Cup Asia Finals 2023.

"It is with great pride and joy that we congratulate Luis Moreno for his breathtaking second place finish at the TGR GT Cup Asia, earning for the Philippines one of the two Asian spots in the GR GT Cup Global Finals," said Danny Cruz, TMP First Vice President for Vehicle Sales Operations. "This is truly an unforgettable milestone for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Philippines family that have always championed Filipinos' world-class skills and passion for e-motorsports."

two Asian spots in the GR GT Cup Global Finals," said Danny Cruz, TMP First Vice President for Vehicle Sales Operations. "This is truly an unforgettable milestone for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Philippines family that have always championed Filipinos' world-class skills and passion for e-motorsports."

"Luis, along with his Toyota Philippines teammates Russel Reyes and Matthew Ang, have been great examples of our amazing local sim-racing talent. We look forward to seeing them achieve greater things in the future, especially Luis who has our full support as he carries our flag in the world finals in Barcelona this November," Cruz added.

GR GT Cup Asia 2023 – Highlights of the Regional Finals

Beginning the competition at sunrise on Australia’s Mount Panorama, a tight 5-minute qualifying round saw this year’s youngest racer, Singapore’s Fadtris Isa at 19 years old, secure pole position for the race, with Malaysians Taj Aiman and Dhanesh Wigneswaran locking second and third position respectively, and Indonesians Benaya Theo and GR GT Cup veteran Andika Rama in fourth and fifth position respectively.

In the 7-lap race, Benaya Theo suffered technical issues, putting him out for much of the race, while Aiman quickly shot past Isa to hold a strong lead for the first half of the race. After pitting for a switch of tires from soft to medium however, Isa chased down Aiman to snatch the lead back in lap 6, spectacularly winning the first race with a 0.6 second lead ahead of Aiman, and Wigneswaran shortly behind in third place. Aiman and Wigneswaran each served three-second penalties, giving the podium finish for Race 1 to Fadtris Isa (Singapore), Andika Rama (Indonesia), and Ethan Yoh (Singapore).

Moving on to the second race, held on Tokyo Expressway, a grueling and enthralling 11 lap battle went underway – with Benaya Theo looking to put behind his disappointment from the first event. Reverse starting grid placed him in prime spot – pole position – a racer’s dream. Cue to the main event, the smooth and flowing nature of the street circuit saw numerous battles, with racers constantly trading positions through the track’s tight and undulating turns. Matthew Ang from the Philippines saw his championship hopes dashed as he crashed into the barriers midway through the race, leaving him dead last. Meanwhile, Singapore’s Zaim Rasyad found himself in clear air up at the front. Next up was the pit window, where huge changes in tire and race strategies came into play, bringing Theo to the fore. By constantly drafting alongside Malaysia’s Chong Kai Chang and Thailand’s Thanaphat Pungphat, Theo came home in first place, marginally pipping Pungphat and Chong to the line, in P2 and P3 respectively.

The competition concluded at the iconic Spa Francorchamps in Belgium. Drivers equipped with GR010 Hybrid Hypercars made their preparations for the 5-minute qualifying round. The Philippines’ Luis Moreno lit up the timing screens on his way to pole position with the fastest time, closely followed by Wigneswaran, Theo, Isa, and Rama – a huge indicator of the competition standards one can expect in the upper echelons of regional motorsports.

The action ensued in the final race, as nine of fifteen racers racked up time penalties, eager to pip ahead of one another. Aiman - runner up in the first event - suffered technical issues that unfortunately ended his race early. Back at the front, Moreno maintained a comfortable lead for the first few laps. However, complications showed up on lap 5. The previously sunny weather had very quickly turned overcast, with racers furiously watching the weather radar for spots of precipitation. What started out as a light drizzle soon turned into a monsoon-like downpour, soaking the track and limiting visibility. Tire choices soon became crucial, as then-championship leader, Isa, made the ultimately premature switch to intermediate tires. Rasyad and Theo followed suit, and while others chose to hop onto medium tires, banking on a passing shower, the rain only got heavier. Rama, holding steady amidst a mad rush to the pits for tires, stayed out on the hard compound, timing the pits to perfection. He exited his pitstop on lap 8 and came home cool and composed to win the final race. Coming in second, Wigneswaran put in a valiant effort, closing the gap from seven to less than two seconds, followed closely with third place Moreno pulling up five seconds behind.

Prizes were awarded to the top three racers (by individual cumulative points earned) and top three country teams (by total points earned per country). Andika Rama (Indonesia) earned 6,000 USD with a final tally of 65 points, Luis Moreno (Philippines) earned 3,000 USD with 52 points, while Fadtris Isa (Singapore) earned 1,500 USD with 49 points. In the team championship, Team Indonesia secured 6,000 USD with an impressive total of 122 points, Team Malaysia settled with 3,000 USD with a total of 105 points, followed closely by Team Singapore on 98 points to get the final cash prize of 1,500 USD.

To re-watch the Regional Finals for GR GT Cup Asia 2023, please click here.

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