GR Supra GTCUP Driver Interview


Interview with FIA-Certified GT Championship Manufacturer
Series World Finals First and Second Place Finalists

「GR Supra GT Cup」, started with the launch of GR Supra, is the online one-make race in Gran Turismo SPORT for PlayStation®4 game.
It has collected more and more fans with rounds of races. Of course, world top drivers of e-Motorsports also joined the intense battles.
Among them are car racer Kawakami Kanata (FIA Gran Turismo Championship 2018 Manufacture Series World Final Champion for Team Lexus) and Yamanaka Tomoaki (Manufacture Series World Final 2nd position for Team Toyota)
While fans are competing for the points of「GR Supra GT Cup」, we had an interview with these two top racing drivers.

As my skill improved, I became more addicted to the game.


Tell us about your first encounter with Gran Turismo and what brought you into e-Motorsports.

I started playing Gran Turismo when I was about 4 years old. At that time, I played against my parents and friends on split screen. When I was in middle school online play became available and as my skill improved, I became more addicted to the game.
The fact that more of my friends were into cars than games also motivated me to play Gran Turismo. As for e-Motorsports, I just felt like the official manufacturer tournaments and the world tournaments were just added to the things we originally did at home.

I started playing from Gran Turismo 3. At that time, I played offline. When Gran Turismo 6 came out, I heard about online time attack tournaments and joined in to have a good time, wondering how fast I was.
I bought Gran Turismo Sport thinking I would just have some fun playing it. I found out that there were many online competitions and heard there would be an FIA-certified tournament. It sounded interesting so I decided to give it a shot.

It made me realize that I always had to race at 100%,
no matter if I was ahead or behind.


Tell us about your daily practice.

I practice for about three hours a day, two to three times a week. To be honest, it is very difficult to balance practice with work and I haven’t practiced as much as I like. I usually start with time attacks for official FIA competitions and then do mock races with the same settings.
Since I don’t have much time I may to go into a race lacking confidence, but I intend to do my best and work with what little time I have.

I just started to work in April of this year. If I don’t get home late, I usually practice for two or three hours a day. I practice alone for the official FIA competitions held twice a week, but I also practice with my friends on online races using the same settings as the official competition.
I call it practice but I am really enjoying it.

Living in Tochigi Prefecture, 25 years old , 2nd position of FIA Gran Turismo Championship 2018, Manufacture Series World Final for Team Toyota, Fascinating e-Motorsports fans by his positive, aggressive driving style
Living in Aichi Prefecture, 23 years old, Winner of FIA Gran Turismo Championship 2018, Manufacture Series World Final for Team Lexus (1st time champion).gaining victories by his calm and no-mistake-allowed driving style


Of all your races which race were you the happiest? The most disappointed?

It’s hard to choose, but I am happy whenever I look back to when I won in the 2012 Red Bull 5G tournament racing genre.
For most disappointing it is obviously the final round in the Nations Cup World Finals last year. Going into the final race, I had built up a relatively good point lead and had it in my head that it was probably a good idea to go on the defensive.
During the race I had some bad luck, and it felt like I lost because I couldn’t get into a good rhythm.
It was a painful race that made me realize that I always had to race at 100%, no matter if I was ahead or behind, and it also gave me the opportunity to rethink the way I approach racing.

My happiest moment was when we won the Manufacturers Series World Finals last year. It is my greatest memory. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, but it is my most memorable race.
On the other hand, the race I was most disappointed with was the last race to qualify for the World Finals. I had a pole position start and was driving a car I am comfortable with but when I finished in second place at the end, I felt terrible.
The moment that we won the final race of the World Finals, even though I made it to the last race, I didn’t think I could come that far. Of course I was happy when I passed the finish line, but I didn’t feel that instantly. After the award ceremony when I came back to my room and I was looking at my trophy the feelings welled up.

Mr.Yamanaka and Mr.Kawakami competing with world-renowned drift top driver Mr.Saito Taigo

I felt strange standing in the same place as racers
who I normally see on television.


This question is for Kanata. How was the annual FIA Prize Giving Ceremony that you attended after the World Final?

I was overwhelmed by the venue for the ceremony.
Just a few months before I was an ordinary college student. I was overcome with emotion having come to such an amazing place. I felt strange standing in the same place as racers who I normally see on television, but I was proud.


The GR Supra GT Cup is a one-make race with the GR Supra. What are your impressions of driving the GR Supra in Gran Turismo Sport?

The first thing I felt was that this is a quick car. It is a bit tail-happy but if you countersteer it will stay on course.
As for the characteristics, I sometimes think that the car is too agile, but it is also easy to tune.
Whether it is easy to drive will depend on the person, but I get the impression that it is the kind of car that can be driven quickly by someone who understands it well.

The first time I drove the GR Supra my impression was that this is a car that can really move. It is a very agile car. The rear can slip suddenly which gave me the impression that it is not an easy car to drive. However, after spending some days getting used to riding it, I truly realized the fun of the car.
I think it is a very fun car that can corner comfortably if you can correctly control the moment when the tires begin slipping. At first, I felt like the car was controlling me, but once I tamed it, it felt amazing to drive.

After the race, When Mr.Saito talking about “When next time we meet…” ,
Mr.Yamanaka and Mr.Kawakami expressed their wish to compete with Mr Saito again

I want to prove to the world that
there can be an extremely capable Japanese driver in e-Motorsports.


What are your future goals?

I want to be number one in the world. The result at the World Finals last year was disappointing but if I stay positive, I think I have it in me to take on the world.
I want to go forward with no lapse in my skill or luck.
Speaking on traditional motorsports as a whole, although there are various factors such as environment, I think that there are few opportunities for a Japanese person to become a world champion.
On the other hand, e-Motorsports is an extremely equal world. I want to prove to the world that there can be an extremely capable Japanese driver in e-Motorsports.
I want to use my experience, including as a competitor, to support the development of e-Motorsports in order to build a foundation for the future.

My goal for now is to find a balance between my first year of work and e-Motorsports. If I can manage to balance those two things, then I want to continue being a top player who can make it to the World Finals. e-Motorsports is in its infancy and is still niche, but I want e-Motorsports to be well-known through exciting events in the same way as other e-Sports.

Racer Yamanaka and racer Kawakami before the real GR Supra

I think people should start off playing to enjoy the game then compete together.


What would you tell other Gran Turismo drivers who want to reach the top level of e-Motorsports?

There are people who participate in e-Motorsports for the game. In the future I think that people will participate with different thoughts including the idea of turning e-Motorsports into a career.
First of all, I think it is important that drivers like e-Motorsports. Of course, I think it is good to always aim for the top. However, I think that alone is not enough to maintain motivation.
I think people should start off playing to enjoy the game then compete together.

No matter what your level is, never forget to have fun.
I hate losing and sometimes will greedily take on more races. Always racing that way can be depressing and when you lose the negativity can build up. Instead, I really want people to focus on enjoying racing and e-Motorsports content. I believe that if you like e-Motorsports, you will find your goal and get a chance to rise to the stage.


GR Supra GT Cup has a simple win or lose one race round.


What are your thoughts on the GR Supra GT CUP?

The official FIA competitions held periodically have three races per round, but the GR Supra GT Cup has a simple win or lose one race round.
It is difficult to understand a player’s strategy in a round, so, in a sense, I think it is a fair competition.
I think my strategy will be a fuel saving strategy for the current race format.
This is because due to the strength of slipstreaming with the current settings it is not good to stay at the front. Even in the qualifiers, you’ll get a good timing even if you follow from behind. That’s what I think at least.
The regulations are done well. The fuel use and tire wear multipliers are set high, so the second half of the race will be difficult if you don’t control your fuel or manage your tires.
There is no doubt that in that regard the GR Supra GT Cup races will require very high driving skills. What’s more, everyone drives the same car. Because of that I think the GR Supra GT Cup will be the kind of race where the driver’s skills are directly reflected in their results and as drivers hone their skills their results will improve.

I think it is a good idea to have one race rounds that are different from the FIA rounds. However, participation may be difficult for those who work on Saturdays and Sundays in Japan since the races are held at 7:00 PM every Saturday. I think this a race management issue, but I want the ranking rules* for the series to be put to good use.

*Ranking rules for the series
At the end of the series, the final rank is determined by the scores obtained from the top five rounds from all the rounds a player participates in.
→After the end of Round 5 24 Hours of Nürburgring on May 25, it is still possible to get points from five of the remaining eight rounds.
Even if you participate in the series after Round 6 Red Bull Ring on June 29, it is still possible to make it to the finals at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of October depending on results from at least five rounds.

The GR Supra GT Cup is an online race held within the Gran Turismo Sport for PS4® game; The cup is a one-make race, in which all participants drive the GR Supra. Players can, of course, participate from all over the world and, as the name suggests, the GR Supra GT Cup is a global one-make race that will identify the world’s best GR Supra driver.
We look forward to your participation.

©2019 2019 Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. Developed by Polyphony Digital Inc.