DUBAI: When GT Academy began five years ago, many people thought Nissan and PlayStation were crazy for believing they could turn a Gran Turismo gamer into a real life racing driver.
But the programme was carefully designed to find the gamer with the most natural talent and then to work with them to refine that into top class race craft. Beginning with a Gran Turismo gaming competition, the fastest gamers are then put through their paces at National Final events before the final few head to Race Camp where they are evaluated on their natural car control, fitness and mental attitude. This is followed by an intensive Driver Development Programme for the winners, training them in the skills they need to compete with the best international drivers out on track. With this rigorous qualifying system, GT Academy has continuously unearthed incredible racing drivers who otherwise would have remained undiscovered.
Between them, the GT Academy graduates have won gruelling endurance races, scored two Le Mans 24 Hours podium results in Le Mans prototype sports cars, won GT championships, raced in single seater F3 cars and tested in GP3. As Nismo Athletes, Lucas, Jann, Wolfgang, Mark, Steve and Peter continue to perform exceptionally for Nissan in races across the globe. Meanwhile, 2013 recruits Miguel, Florian, Stanislav and the as yet unannounced USA winner, are continuing their Driver Development Programme ahead of a full season in a GT3 championship with Nissan in 2014.
Those who doubted the programme in 2008 are now some of GT Academy’s strongest advocates.