NISSAN GT ACADEMY SENDS EIGHT TOP GAMERS TO SILVERSTONE
Outstanding success for GT Academy debut in South Africa
National Finals weekend produces top eight finalists
South Africa’s best to go head-to-head with the Middle East at famous UK circuit
PRETORIA, ROSSLYN (5 February, 2013) – The Nissan and Playstation GT Academy – the gamer-to-racer competition which has seen an exceptional response from avid South African PlayStation® console racers – came to a climax on 26 and 27 January at Kyalami Race Track for the National Finals.
Following months of online and live event gaming, in which entrants gave their all to set the fastest virtual lap times, the competition now moves into its third phase.
It’s not a game anymore
The thousands of entrants to GT Academy were narrowed down to just 25 wannabe racing drivers who descended on Kyalami for the finals weekend as the ground-breaking competition finally moved into reality. For the first time, qualifying entrants were given the opportunity to prove their worth in the real world, where various scenarios tested their mental, physical and driving capabilities.
Twenty-five were whittled down on the Saturday following a full day of console racing, all done using virtual Nissan race cars via the purpose-built GranTurismo®5 racing ‘pods’ – with the 16 fastest times of the day progressing into Sunday’s smorgasbord of activities.
Further virtual racing kicked the second day off, followed by the entrants’ introduction to the ‘real thing’ – glistening Nissan 370Z Coupes, set and ready on the grand prix circuit and skidpan.
As a first opportunity for many of the contestants to drive a real sports car on a real race track, the wet and dry gymkhana courses were designed not only to test their control behind the wheel but also to observe how their countless hours of top performances behind the consoles would translate into real-world driving.
An orchestrated media challenge followed in which contestants faced a panel of selected motoring media, Nissan South Africa representatives as well as international GT Academy personnel, for a few minutes of questioning in a simulated post-race interview environment.
A physical fitness test ended the day’s activities, involving push-ups, planking and a bleep test – to assess the physical condition and mental endurance of the would-be racing drivers.
A nation of top-notch drivers revealed
Not only was GT Academy’s first foray onto the African continent a resounding success locally, but a new wave of racing talent has been revealed which has met with international applause.
Jonathan Bowers, Account Director for GT Academy, says the expansion plans to increase the initiative’s global reach have been strongly supported by the South African response. “Everyone is excited by the expansion and we are seeing great success wherever we introduce GT Academy. The European outfit is now in its fifth year and we have seen other successful expansion projects, especially in the United States and Russia. It is especially exciting to see the amount of competitive and competent racing driver hopefuls in South Africa, where resources to explore international motorsport are scarce and accessibility limited.
“With a fresh crop of young graduates coming through from the various academies each year, our previous winners – some of which have gone on to compete at top-level racing events including Le Mans – are always kept on their toes. Our Driver Development Programme also benefits from the expansion, where we find the increasing levels of competitiveness and competence allow us to streamline the programme and raise the bar.”
Johan Kleynhans, Director of Sales, Marketing and Aftersales at Nissan South Africa, commented: “We have seen an immense response from the younger generation, especially in the way their attention was instantly grabbed and their enthusiasm could be seen by the interest generated around GT Academy. We have achieved the goals we initially set out for the Academy and we have seen renewed interest in the Nissan brand and its performance-oriented products as a result. This has also given Nissan South Africa a golden opportunity to expose people to exciting products like the Nissan Juke turbo and the legendary Nissan 370Z. We wish the best of luck to the eight finalists in their endeavours in England.”
Race Camp welcomes the top eight
The famous Silverstone grand prix circuit in the United Kingdom now plays host to the top eight GT Academy finalists who are to undergo a rigorous training programme at Race Camp. They will be met there by the top eight finalists from the Middle East’s GT Academy, before an intense schedule of mental, physical and driving training will determine who deserves the ultimate title of GT Academy Winner. Faced with the proposition of an international racing license, a professional racing career jump-started by Nissan and Sony as well as the opportunity to compete in the 2013 Silverstone 24 Hours endurance race, the finalists are in for a tough, demanding and exciting ride in the real world.
The top-performing South African finalists are Louis Aylward, Robin van Merch,
Jonathan Mogotsi, Ashley Oldfield, David Peetham, Hercules du Preez, Gerhard Rautenbach and Jacobus Volschenk.
Concludes Bowers: “We are very impressed with the level of commitment shown by the South African entrants, who produced stellar lap times on the consoles and fared well in important aspects like the media test. It is difficult to predict what will happen at Race Camp in the months which follow, but we expect the top eight South Africans to really take the fight to their Middle Eastern counterparts. We are looking forward to intense competition in the real world.”