The eighth year of GT Academy once again proved to be a resounding success as hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo fans and aspiring racing drivers came out in force, all with the goal of becoming Nissan’s next racing driver.
Live Events around the world gave gamers their first taste of Gran Turismo Sport on PlayStation®4, with a special pre-release version of the game as it prepares for its full release in 2017.
Participating territories for 2016 were Australia, Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and North Africa, with national finals whittling down the masses to 36 finalists who would travel to the UK to chase their dreams.
On arrival, the competitors were given a surprise right away, with the news that rather than staying in hotel rooms, each territory would have their own extravagant ‘tour bus’ where competitors would relax and sleep for the duration of Race Camp.
Long-standing head judge Rob Barff once again oversaw proceedings with this year’s mentors being Katsumasa Chiyo (Australia), Ricardo Sanchez (Mexico), Diandra Gautama (Indonesia), Lucas Ordoñez (Philippines), Sandy Stuvik (Thailand) and Tamer Bashir (North Africa). All of these mentors had a background in motor sport and their role would be to nurture these novice racers and help them overcome the numerous challenges that would be thrown their way during Race Camp.
|Head Judge: Rob Barff|
|Judge: Katsumasa Chiyo||Judge: Sandy Stuvik|
|Chris McIvor||Bradley Packham||Danuwat Worakitichai||Eakparin Thavornlumlert|
|Michael Pryor||Steve Danielsen||Kanokphan Wathanakitanan||Manuttakon Scherer|
|Oscar Redfearn||Keishi Ayukai||Phureepat Poonperm||Ponpon Naraipitak|
|Indonesia||North Africa (Algeria, Egypt & Morocco)|
|Judge: Diandra Gautama||Judge: Tamer Bashir|
|Mohammad Faiz Rayyan||Catra Felder||Mohamed Madaci||Mohamed Wally|
|Raditya Indera Syahieza||Muhammad Pandu W Hartanto||Kamel Madaci||Hassan Abulkhasab|
|Dwinanto Sukmono||Ricko Boen||Karim Teggar||Oussama Benjelloun|
|Judge: Ricardo Sanchez||Judge: Lucas Ordóñez|
|Johnny Guindi Hamui||Lorenzo Goicoechea Amieva||Quattro Adriano||Jan Millard Lacuna|
|Gonzalo Castro Gutierrez||Enrique Rodriguez Manjarrez||Kim Jigier Aquino Chong||Mervin John Mallen|
|Gabriel Ortiz Vega||Oscar Jaime Arrambide||Richard Dean Jose||Elysse Menorca|
During the eight days at Race Camp, competitors were pushed to the max. They were given a baptism of fire on their first day. With no racing experience, they were thrown into single seaters, Ariel Atoms, Caterhams and Nissan 370Z Race Cars at the UK’s impressive Bedford Autodrome. The remainder of the week comprised of a brutal assault course fitness challenge, head-to-head Gymkhana eliminators, stock car racing and a memorable experience driving powerful Nissan GT-Rs on the stunning Pendine Sands beach in South Wales, home to many land speed record attempts.
Race Camp came to a thrilling climax with the final race around the home of British motor sport, Silverstone Circuit. While in previous years, one competitor from each territory would contest the final race, this year two competitors would represent each territory in a 16-lap endurance race.
When the race got underway, Mexico initially made a quick getaway and led into the first corner, however they were hauled in by the quick-starting Mohamed Wally from North Africa who took the lead and built a gap in his eleven lap stint. Mexico pitted early, changing Enrique Manjarrez for Johnny Guindi Hamui, who within three laps had set the fastest lap of the race. When North Africa eventually stopped, Guindi had narrowed the gap completely and the pair went into the first corner side-by-side after North Africa emerged from the pits. Guindi then went on to take and consolidate the lead before taking the chequered flag.
After a period of deliberation, Guindi was chosen as the 2016 GT Academy champion for his consistent pace and adaptability throughout the week, as well as a willingness to listen and take on all the advice given to him throughout Race Camp.
Having been crowned the 2016 international GT Academy champion, Guindi immediately set to work on his Driver Development Programme and was racing in a British club race the very same weekend. Johnny is now set to make his international racing debut in January’s Dubai 24 Hours as part of an all-GT Academy alumni driver line-up that includes Jann Mardenborough (UK), Romain Sarazin (France) and fellow Mexican winner, Ricardo Sanchez. The quartet will drive a Nissan 370Z GT4 run by Nissan GT Academy Team RJN.