NISSAN PLAYSTATION® GT ACADEMY TO TAKE CENTRE STAGE AT DUBAI 24 HOURS
Winners from Europe, USA, Germany and Russia to team up in two Nissan 370Z Nismo race cars
03 January 2012 – Nissan and PlayStation® will demonstrate the growth in scale and stature of its innovative GT Academy virtual-to-real-racer competition in January. 2012’s GT Academy Champions from Europe, USA, Germany and Russia will line up on the grid at the prestigious Dubai 24 Hour race (10-12 January, 2013) in two 370Z Nismo GT4 Race cars and in doing so they complete their transition from PlayStation’s class-leading Gran Turismo®5 game to Nissan’s Endurance Race Team in just four months.
Wolfgang Reip (2012 European winner from Belgium) and Mark Shulzhitskiy (2012 Russian winner) will be in the first of the two 370Z Nissans together with their more experienced team mates, inaugural winner of GT Academy Spaniard Lucas Ordoñez and Nissan Signatech team LMP2 Russian driver Roman Rusinov. Both are 24-hour experts and have recorded impressive results at the famous Le Mans 24 Hours – Ordoñez was second in the LMP2 class in 2011 and Rusinov fourth in 2012.
The second 370Z Nismo in GT Academy colours will be driven by Peter Pyzera (2012 German winner) and Steve Doherty (2012 US winner). Their experienced team mates for this prestigious race will be ‘Queen of the Nürburgring’ Sabine Schmitz, a GT Academy judge and mentor for the past three years, along with British driver Alex Buncombe, the experienced Nissan team driver who has been team mate to all three previous winners of GT Academy in their debut racing years.
The 26-year-old ‘Wolfie’ Reip was one of 830,000 GT5TM gamers who entered the 2012 European GT Academy competition and emerged victorious after the gruelling Race Camp at Silverstone Circuit in August. Since being crowned champion, Wolfgang and fellow winners Mark, Peter and Steve have embarked on the GT Academy’s most innovative and comprehensive Driver Development Programme to date. Incorporating every conceivable element of a racing driver’s complexion, the recruits were given regular driver coaching, karting, fitness and nutrition programmes, and sports psychology and simulator sessions. In addition, all four winners completed a number of races in the UK in order to quality for an international race licence, to prepare them to take centre stage in Dubai driving a GT4-specification Nissan 370Z Nismo.
As Darren Cox, Director, Nissan Global Motorsports, explains: “Each year we have developed and refined the Driver Development Programme for our GT Academy winners and I firmly believe that it is now the best programme in the world. We are absolutely confident that these guys will line up in Dubai better prepared than many of their more experienced adversaries who have taken a more traditional route into motor sport. Lucas, Jordan Tresson and Jann Mardenborough, our previous GT Academy Europe winners, have demonstrated that we are producing great drivers with bright futures. This new crop of four drivers is no exception, and I am looking forward to watching them perform in Dubai in a pair of Nissan 370Zs.”
Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital, echoed this sentiment: “Each time a new winner has embarked on their Dubai 24 hour challenge it has been a proud and exciting moment for everyone involved with GT Academy. The driver line-up for 2013 combines raw talent from this year’s GT Academy with the experience of Lucas Ordoñez and three other professional team mates, who will be there to support the graduates and also witness the success of the programme in action. The previous year’s GT Academy winners surprised many people from the motorsport world in achieving a fantastic podium position at Dubai 2012 and we will be aiming to provide a few more surprises this year, too.”