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Jul 16, 2014 - 03:28 PM
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UK GT Academy Hopefuls Move A Step Closer To Racer Reality
Posted by: newsla on Jul 16, 2014 - 03:28 PM
Sports Cars
UK GT Academy Hopefuls Move A Step Closer To Racer Reality

This week saw the NISMO PlayStation® GT Academy 2014 UK National Final come to a thrilling conclusion at the world famous Silverstone Circuit. Six of the country’s fastest and most talented Gran Turismo®6 gamers emerged victorious from the field of 28 contenders taking part in this highly acclaimed virtual-to-reality motorsport talent spotting contest. Stakes were incredibly high as the UK competitors battled it out to keep their dreams alive of proceeding through to the international phase. This year’s European champion will undertake a world-leading Nissan Driver Development Programme in order to prepare as one of the NISMO racing drivers competing at the prestigious 2015 Dubai 24 Hours endurance race in January.


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Now in its sixth year, an impressive entry list of nearly 290,000 gamers from around Europe entered the 2014 GT Academy competition. Marking a new format for the National Final, the UK’s leading 28 contestants were split into four groups of seven to take part in a series of Gran Turismo 6 gaming time trials, real-life driving challenges in the Nissan Juke NISMO, gruelling fitness tests and an interview session with experienced journalists to see how they react in the media spotlight. Their scores were tallied up throughout the day to decide the top six who would progress to the week-long international final – aptly known as the GT Academy Race Camp which again takes place at Silverstone, the home of British motorsport, at the end of this month.

Alex Porazinski, Ben Spurge, Karl Chard, Luke Wilkins, Shane Green and Stuart Millar were announced as the winners and will have to prepare themselves to go head-to-head in a battle of survival at the uncompromising boot camp for aspiring racing drivers, where the focus is then put on a multitude of real driving skill challenges to determine who has what it takes to be the next GT Academy champion. As the week progresses only one of the six Brits will make it through to the final race, where they will face the leading European competitors that have qualified through the 12 participating countries.

Luke Wilkins, 20 from Coventry, is eagerly looking forward to Race Camp in two weeks: “I can’t believe I’ve got through! Now I get to go to Race Camp and drive all these different cars and it’s just going to be amazing; I can’t wait. Now I’ll be carrying on with doing my normal fitness work but practicing more on Gran Turismo, learning the track where we’re likely to be. I’ll do some karting, try to mentally prepare, and watch past episodes of GT Academy to try and prepare as much as I can.”

In 2011, Jann Mardenborough became the first British winner of GT Academy and his career is becoming nothing short of a fairy-tale. In his first year racing with Nissan, he was awarded the Rising Star status by the British Racing Drivers’ Club, following impressive pole positions and race wins in the 2012 British GT Championship. With a Le Mans 24 Hours podium under his belt and a switch to the highly-competitive 2013 FIA European Formula 3 Championship, Jann was rewarded this year with a drive in the Formula One feeder series GP3 with Red Bull Racing-backed Arden International.

Having supported the 2014 GT Academy National Final, Jann Mardenborough said: “I would never have believed that I would be given a chance of making a career as a racing driver before entering GT Academy. This is such a difficult sport to break into and what Nissan and PlayStation are doing is giving people the chance of fulfilling a lifetime dream, so it is no surprise that the competition continues to attract such a high entry level. The fact that there were four GT Academy graduates on the grid at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours shows this partnership has an established track record for using the Gran Turismo® series to unearth new talent to make their mark in motorsport with Nissan.”

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