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GT Academy 2015 European Race Camp - Day 8

The final day of the 2015 NISMO PlayStation GT Academy Race Camp began back on the Yas Marina Circuit where each of the 14 remaining competitors took to the track with the GT Academy instructors. Their country mentors then downloaded their data and v-box video recordings to analyse their performances. F1 design legend Adrian Newey OBE was on hand to give his input to the mentors and advice to the competitors.

Next up it was the turn of the mentors to sit alongside each of their two remaining competitors before they had to make their final, painful decision of who would be their territory champion and take part in the final race.

Territory champions, and lining up for their first ever race, would be: Ben Bishop (UK); Romain Sarazin (France); Nikodem Wisniewski (CEE); Victor Prim (Iberia); Emile de Dryver (Benelux); Simone Marcenò (Italy); and Thomas Kiefer (Germany). That would also be the grid order, decided last night in a special Gran Turismo race that took place at the Viceroy Hotel’s Rush nightclub.

A timed practice took place at dusk before the cars lined up for the six-lap sprint race under the Yas Marina’s floodlit southern circuit.

Frenchman Romain Sarazin got a great start, and moved into the lead when UK winner Ben Bishop ran wide in turn one. With some super-quick laps under his belt, including the fastest of the race, Romain was able to pull out a comfortable lead. Behind him there were valiant efforts from hard-charging Italian Simone Marcenò and Spaniard Victor Prim to pass Ben. But the Briton defended well and the race finished France, UK, Italy, Iberia, Benelux, CEE and Germany.

The only formality that remained was for Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey to announce the 22-year-old student from Lyon as the winner of the chance to transform his life. Romain will now embark on the GT Academy Driver Development Programme and the chance to chase his dream as he pursues a career as an international racing driver.

Rob Barff (Head Judge): "What a job from him, he dominated the race from the front, a true champion’s drive, extremely impressive. Three fantastic laps in the middle of the race pulled him clear of the field and he deserves to win. He’s been improving all week, Olivier told me he’s been pacing himself and knew what he had to do, and he did it flawlessly. A true champion and a deserved winner."

Adrian Newey: "I was very impressed with that race, considering that the guys haven’t raced before, it was a very clean one. Once they were away it was very tight. Romain did well to open up a gap and utilise the space while the cars behind slowed each other down. He controlled the gap very well, which I enjoyed. It has been a fascinating experience to come here and see GT Academy in action. I can see that this programme will become an increasingly important route into motor sport for young people to chase their dream, as the costs of the traditional karting and Formula-racing route continue to escalate. It’s a great shame that there can only be one winner."

Olivier Pla (France Mentor): "It’s been perfect for me. Romain did a fantastic job and did exactly what I told him to do in the race, a good quality for a young driver. He produced the perfect start and kept his nerve in the first corner. After that I told him to create a small gap and then control it from the guys behind him. He did all of this perfectly and I’m very proud of him!"

GT Academy European Champion Romain Sarazin (France): "I’m really thrilled! I knew I had to get a good start because it’s difficult to overtake. After I got past Ben in the first corner I just had to keep cool and build a gap. I saw the others fighting behind me, and it made it easier for me to get away. This is a huge achievement and will completely change my life. I’m lucky enough to now have a chance to live my dream, and I can’t wait to get started!"