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GT Academy 2015 European Race Camp - Day 2

The temperature in Abu Dhabi looks set to be a factor throughout the 2015 NISMO PlayStation GT Academy European Race Camp. However, it may have been more critical today as the competitors’ physical fitness was tested in 41°C heat at Wadi Adventure, a purpose-built water sport centre located in the desert near Al Ain, about an hour and a half drive from Yas Island.

A tough physical course in any circumstances, the challenge proved too much for some competitors who were unable to complete it. For two people from each territory group it signalled an early end to their Race Camp dreams, as the bottom two were eliminated after the challenge.

For the strongest two, their performance guaranteed them safety from the second elimination challenge of the day, straight drag races in the Nissan 370Z race cars.

All evening the fantastic 1.2km floodlit drag strip at Yas Marina Circuit hosted each group in knockout races - joy for the two winners, but despair for those for whom Race Camp is over.

“The very tough physical challenge this morning lived up to what we expect of GT Academy and really tested the competitors’ desire to progress and keep their dream alive,” commented Chief Instructor Rob Barff. “This evening was all about handling the pressure. Some of the races were agonisingly close, while in others the pressure told and a clear winner emerged. We have narrowed the field by half from each group now and so with only four left, tomorrow we focus on driver training on this amazing Yas Marina Circuit.”

Italian racing driver Michela Cerruti is new to GT Academy, but has already experienced the highs and lows for the competitors she is mentoring: “It was a really hard long day,” she said. “I was so pleased this morning that one of our guys did very well in the physical challenge, but it was sad tonight to have to lose two. The drag race is so short, and there can be such a small margin between staying and going. It is hard to see them so sad when they go. It makes me feel even luckier with what I do in my life. I’ll never take racing for granted after seeing how much it means to all of these PlayStation gamers who are looking to change their lives.”

“The assault course was awesome,” said UK competitor James Garner, who was saved from the drag elimination having come second among his teammates at Wadi Adventure. “I absolutely loved it. One of the best things I have ever done. It was an amazing feeling to get to the end and see a table full of helmets – one for me – which means I am truly into GT Academy.”

The eliminated drivers still get the chance to enjoy the delights of Abu Dhabi, with a trip to the Yas Waterworld on the cards tomorrow.

For the 28 remaining in the competition, the hard work continues. The driving begins in earnest with the competitors set to be put through their paces in the Nissan 370Z race cars on Yas Marina’s Formula One circuit.