Last year’s Toyota GR GT Cup Asia champion, Nathayos Sirigaya, dominated the competition with a combination of speed and consistency that saw him cruise comfortably to victory, but he knows that defending his title this year will be no easy feat.
“My expectations are high of course,” Sirigaya told ONE Esports, “but I’m not leaving out factors such as luck. Anything can happen since this is racing. And sometimes to win you need luck. Maybe it will be my day, maybe it won’t.”
On October 29, Sirigaya, along with 19 other racers from seven teams, will compete at the Toyota GR GT Cup Asia 2022 for the title, a share of the US$21,000 prize money, and two coveted spots at the GR GT Cup Global Final 2022, which will be held in historic Monaco, a city steeped in racing heritage, this November.
As the reigning champion, Sirigaya knows he will enter the tournament with a target on his back, but he’s not letting that get to him and he may even have a few new tricks up his sleeve. “My approach changes every year,” said Sirigaya, “We all evolve due to experience.”
ONE Esports caught up with the champion to discuss this year’s tournament, the mental aspect of racing, and what motivates him to keep racing.
The importance of mental strength
Unlike many other tournaments, the Toyota GR GT Cup Asia 2022 requires racers to possess a complete skillset and mastery over a wide range of different cars from within the Toyota GR racing stable. This year, Toyota is increasing the challenge, with a variety of different weather conditions added to the selection of tracks.
Sirigaya has proven that he can perform well in any car he gets behind the wheel of, but still, like any driver, he has his favorites. “I like the GR Yaris the most as it is the car I took the V1600 Finnish title with,” said Sirigaya, adding that he is looking forward to racing the GR Yaris this year on “Fuji Speedway, as it is always close racing due to underpowered vehicles on a high-speed track.”
For any racers struggling to adapt to the different cars, tracks, and conditions racers will have to compete in at the Toyota GR GT Cup Asia 2022, Sirigaya’s main advice is simple: “Practice helps to eliminate errors.”
However, the champion also advised aspiring racers that mental strength plays a huge part in success.
“Races don’t always go to plan. You need the mental strength to fight back when mistakes and errors occur. Be calm, but also take chances, weigh the risks and analyze the situation and how to overcome it. That’s what I would do.”
In fact, Sirigaya even said that if he could only give one piece of advice to his younger self, it would be, “Be calm – patience is the key to racing in most situations.”
What motivates a champion?
Sirigaya is a veteran in the e-motorsport scene and has been representing Thailand in Gran Turismo for eight years, but his motivation for racing has always been his family.
“My father was a petrolhead,” said Sirigaya. “He had a big role in why my life revolves around cars.” And as a father himself now, it is still family that motivates Sirigaya when he races. “I’m happy to make earnings from sim racing for my wonderful daughters.”
As for his immediate goals, more than anything, Sirigaya wants to defend his title and book his ticket to Monaco and the GR GT Cup Global Final. “Last year I had a glimpse of the Global Finals but due to COVID-19 the races were held online from home. I know for a fact how tough the competition is, but I want to go back and prove myself again.”
Catch Sirigaya and the rest of Asia’s best GAZOO Racers at the Toyota GR GT Cup Asia 2022 on October 29, 2022. Click here to learn more about this year’s tournament.