Johnny Guindi realized his dream of becoming a professional race driver when he rose above 35 competitors at the 2016 GT Academy Race Camp. By doing so, he earned a spot on Nissan’s comprehensive Driver Development Program (DDP) and a chance to race in the 2017 24 Hours of Dubai.
A driving enthusiast and frequent go-karter, Guindi had all but lost complete hope in becoming a pro because of the lack of funding to take his dream to the next level. But the 2016 GT Academy Live Event came to his hometown of Mexico City, providing him with perhaps his final chance for making it to the big time. He had been honing his skills on Gran Turismo for three years to capitalize on such an opportunity. His determination and willingness to learn allowed him to quickly adapt to the pre-release version of Gran Turismo SPORT on the PlayStation 4.
After proving his virtual racing credentials, Guindi progressed to the Mexico National Final at the country’s most famous race track, Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, where he shone across all disciplines to secure one of six Mexican places for Race Camp.
AOver a grueling eight days in the UK, where Guindi was joined by competitors from Mexico, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and North Africa, he once again showcased his remarkable ability to adapt, driving in different situations over different terrains.
Mentored by countryman and 2014 winner Ricardo Sanchez, Guindi impressed the judges with his willingness to learn and his ability use the advice given to him. For the first time in 2016, the final race included two finalists from each nation, with Guindi and teammate Enrique Rodriguez starting from pole position after winning the Stock Car Race two days earlier.
At the end of Rodriguez’s stint, Team Mexico, then running in second place, pitted while race leader, the North African team, stayed out. Once in the driver’s seat, Guindi charged hard from the onset, setting the fastest lap of the race within his first three laps. His quick pace resulted in totally erasing North Africa’s five-second lead as its car came out of the pits.
With six laps remaining, Guindi drove smoothly, brilliantly protecting his position. Mike Carcamo, director of Nissan Motorsport, watched as Guindi took the checkered flag and was later named the 2016 GT Academy champion.
Guindi immediately started his DDP and participated in his first race the following weekend. Now, he’s training for the 2017 24 Hours of Dubai in January, where he will be part of an all GT Academy lineup alongside previous winners Ricardo Sanchez, Romain Sarazin and Jann Mardenborough. They will be piloting a Nissan 370Z GT4.