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GT Academy 2013 European Race Camp - Day 2

The 35 remaining competitors in the 2013 Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy European Race Camp were – as much as is possible in this competition - able to relax and enjoy themselves today. With no eliminations weighing on their minds, the Gran Turismo® gamers had some fun behind the wheel of some real Nissan hardware. However, with the prize of a Driver Development Programme and a season’s racing in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 on offer for only one winner, ‘fun’ is a relative term!

Split into seven territory groups with five remaining competitors in each, three challenges were undertaken. High on the wish list of any Gran Turismo gamer would surely be the opportunity to drive around the famous Silverstone circuit in a 550bhp 3.8 litre twin-turbocharged V6 Nissan GT-R. Dreams came true today as the competitors headed out with GT Academy instructors onto the International Circuit behind the wheel of a car that accelerates from 0-100km/h in 2.84 seconds. This was full-on race driving instruction from some of the best teachers in the business.

The only downside of the day was that the hot sunshine of day one had been replaced by much cooler, drizzly weather that made for tricky track conditions. However, all of the competitors were very familiar with the circuit, as a special demo of the forthcoming Gran Turismo®6 game that features the different configurations of Silverstone has become very popular at Race Camp HQ. The competitors spend any spare time they have on the six PlayStation race pods exploring the limits of the virtual version of the track in the hope that it will give them an edge in the real world.

In contrast to the smooth, precise lines that will help achieve a fast lap of the circuit in the GT-R, the next lesson saw the competitors having to deliberately throw a Nissan 370Z sideways to work on their car control and how to ‘drift’. Driving sideways around a corner is rarely the best route to a fast lap time, but the exercise teaches the competitors throttle and steering control and balance and how to manage a slide. It is also a good gauge of the drivers’ confidence as they try to perform the perfect ‘doughnut’.

The car control session was a prelude to the main challenge of the day that took place away from Silverstone, in and around the hangars of a former US air base. Three of the groups have yet to complete this ‘auto assault’ course, but it proved very popular with the competitors from Iberia, the UK, CEE and Benelux. Driving a Nissan 370Z, they took it in terms to complete a very tight course against the clock that included some fascinating challenges and distractions. While very entertaining for both drivers and spectators, the challenge again tested car control, performance under pressure and how the drivers react to distractions and changing conditions.

Perhaps less entertaining, but no less fascinating, Nordics, France and Italy were taken to the classroom for a lesson in sports and driving psychology – a lesson that could prove very useful in the days ahead. The pressure will mount again tomorrow for sure with the prospect of a further elimination. 



Rob Jenkinson, Chief Instructor
“The doughnuts were just a preparation for the big auto assault course challenge that the competitors didn’t know about at the time, so it served a real purpose in preparing them for what lay ahead. But it also tells us a lot about the character of the driver. Some guys get in and don’t quite grasp the finesse that is required to drift a car, they can’t quite balance the throttle with the steering input. Whereas some other guys just get in and go hell for leather, so that maybe says they are going to be overly aggressive when they get out there on the track.”

Gonçalo Gomes, Iberia Mentor
“Today was a really good day. It was the first time GT Academy has had the auto assault course which was very cool, all the competitors loved it. Because it was very technical and very demanding for the drivers, we could start to see some of them pulling away from the others and we can now begin to get an idea of who is likely to be in our final group.”

Miguel Faisca (Portugal)
“I’ve learnt lots of car control techniques today. The rain made it very difficult, but getting to drive the GT-R, a very fast car, on the International track was very good fun. And learning to drift the Nissan 370Z was really cool as well. It was a good day.”

Pawel Ledwon (Poland)
“It was a very interesting day and full of surprises. We started in GT-Rs which was very exciting as I’ve never driven such a powerful car. But the ‘Gymkhana’ event in the 370Z was a huge surprise and definitely the highlight of my day. It has taught me a lot about controlling a rear wheel drive car with a lot of power, which I hope will serve me well in my racing career.”