Gran Turismo®5 gamer from Spain wins real 571HP MERCEDES-BENZ SLS AMG
Marco Calvo, a 24-year-old student from Madrid in Spain, celebrated becoming the proud owner of a stunning 6.3 litre, 571hp Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG on Tuesday, 12 July at Austria’s Red Bull Ring Race track. The 317km/h supercar was the prize at stake for 15 PlayStation®3 (PS3™) gamers at the Mercedes-Benz GT5 Driving Challenge. In the end, Marco’s triumph came in a thrilling winner-takes-all drag race against his closest rival, Guy Foster from Ireland.
The event was the culmination of a competition that began in November with the release of the Gran Turismo®5 game for PS3. The limited edition Signature Edition version of the game contained a code to enter a competition that would see players from across 22 countries try to gain an advantage in GT5’s ‘B-Spec’ team management mode and become one of 15 winners to have a chance of taking home the SLS.
Having arrived in Austria on Monday, 11 July, the 15 hopefuls stayed in virtual mode for an initial challenge involving 5-way racing on PS3 in the GT5 version of the SLS AMG. Tuesday saw the action shift to the newly-revamped Red Bull Ring in Southern Austria for some very real-life action. The 15 were greeted by a fleet of eight identical silver SLS AMG cars that they would drive in a series of challenges during the day under the watchful eyes of former Formula One driver David Coulthard and five-time DTM Champion Bernd Schneider. The challenges were set and monitored by AMG’s Driving Academy instructors.
Coaching on the three challenges – ‘Consistency’ lapping of the 4.3km track, a precision ‘Agility’ challenge, and an ‘Auto-X’ obstacle course – took place in the morning. The competitive action followed during the afternoon. The four participants with the highest points scores at the end of the day then entered the dramatic ‘Drag Strip’ semi-finals and final. With the possibility to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds in the SLS, the contestants had to use the awesome stopping power of the car to come to a complete halt in a box at the end of the start-finish straight.
Marco held his nerve to triumph by a fraction of a second in the final race. One Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG will now be put on the production line in Stuttgart with his name on it and transported to Spain to be presented to the worthy winner. “I am really, really happy,” said an ecstatic Marco. “These have been two fantastic days. To drive the SLS here has been amazing. It is so powerful and the handling is so good, but, of course, I knew that from GT5! Now I need to get onto my insurance company and start thinking about a garage, but I can certainly imagine myself driving around Madrid in the SLS!”
Formula One superstar David Coulthard was generous in his praise of the gamers: “It’s a wonderful prize, but all the participants have worked hard on the game, earned the right to be here and all driven really well,” commented the winner of 13 Formula One Grands Prix who races in the DTM series in an AMG Mercedes C-Class. “I spent time following them around the handling course this morning and they clearly have good spacial awareness and a feeling for vehicle dynamics. It doesn’t happen too often that you can win a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, but this is fantasy meets reality. What Marco has got is a great high-performance car that really is genuinely just as good for everyday use as it is on the track. He should have a lot of fun with it.”
And with a red SLS AMG gracing the cover of Gran Turismo 5, the starting point of Marco’s journey to own his very own supercar, what colour is he going to have? “I think it is going to be black or silver.”