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GT Academy 2013 European Race Camp - Day 1

The biggest ever GT Academy Race Camp got under way today at the UK’s famous Silverstone Circuit – home of Race Camp since the first Academy in 2008. Forty two of Europe’s fastest Gran Turismo gamers from 16 different countries arrived at Silverstone to see if they have what it takes to make the transition from the virtual racing world on the PlayStation®3 to the real world of Nissan’s motor sport programme.

Having arrived at the ‘home of British motor sport’ yesterday, the 42 competitors were put through their paces with an intensive physical to establish their fitness levels. GT Academy physical and mental coach Simon Fitchett took them through a series of tests in the main Race Camp building at Silverstone’s Stowe complex.

Bed time for the competitors took them to their accommodation for the week on-site at Silverstone. The ‘Snoozeboxes’ are shipping containers converted into comfortable, but compact, sleeping pods!

The 42 competitors are split into seven territory groups: France; Italy; UK; Iberia (Spain and Portugal); Benelux (Belgium and Netherlands); Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden); and CEE (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia). Each territory has an experienced judge and team leader who will also mentor them throughout their Race Camp journey.

For France, Italy and the Nordics groups it was an early start and a new challenge for GT Academy. They headed from Silverstone to the nearby Northampton Speedway track where six different-coloured Nissan Micra cars awaited them on the oval circuit for a ‘stock car’ race. The challenge was designed to see how the competitors would cope with some close-quarter racing and who would be decisive and aggressive, but not reckless, on track.

They would later return to Silverstone to complete the challenges undertaken by UK, Iberia, Benelux and CEE during the morning. This consisted of a benchmark test with a difference. All competitors started by taking to a virtual version of Silverstone’s National Circuit in PlayStation race pods on a special demo of the forthcoming Gran Turismo®6 game. Driving the Nissan 370Z tuned GT Academy car, this ensured that they knew their way around the real circuit, but also gave their judges and mentors an opportunity to assess their driving style in their familiar gaming milieu.

After a briefing, the switch was then made to a real, brand-new Nissan 370Z Nismo. The competitors had to record their fastest possible lap around the real National Circuit without instruction. Points were awarded for their performance, but the benchmark will be repeated at the end of the week to assess the improvement of the competitors.

Motor sport can be cruel, and for seven competitors – one from each territory – day one was also their last in the competition. Following both challenges, the judges, mentors and instructors had to decide who was the least likely to be able to make the switch from gamer to real racer and 42 became 35 for Day 2.

TERRITORY JUDGE
MENTOR
COMPETITORS
FRANCE René Arnoux (judge)
Richard Cuene-Grandidier
Geoffrey Belloeil – eliminated day 1
Adrien De Monte
Jeremy Bouteloup
Joel Cincinnatus
Judicael Lagrange
Arnaud de Crepy – eliminated day 3
ITALY Vitantonio Liuzzi (judge)
Luca Lorrenzini
Alessandro Zedda – eliminated day 3
Egeo Garofalo
Ivan Brigada
Marco Milio
Michele Radicioni – eliminated day 1
Minh Tuan Nguyen
UK Paul O’Neill (judge)
Tiff Chittenden
Jann Mardenborough
John Foster
Adam Suswillo
Mark Ridout
Martin Hefferon – eliminated day 3
Shane Ward – eliminated day 1
Neil Williams
IBERIA
Spain, Portugal
Lucas Ordoñez (judge)
Goncalo Gomez
Daniel Aparicio – eliminated day 1
Daniel Flores
Oscar Ruiz
Miguel Ballester
Francisco Pereira – eliminated day 3
Miguel Faisca
BENELUX
Belgium, Netherlands
Tim Coronel (judge)
Wolfgang Reip
Romain Delva
Nicolas Beguin
Nicola Saponari – eliminated day 3
Stefan de Groot
Mario Gankema – eliminated day 1
Bart Jansen
NORDICS
Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden
Stefan Johansson (judge)
Risto Virtanen
Filip Larsson
Jani Vilen
Timo Koskela – eliminated day 3
Jesper Pedersen
Soren Hansen
Milan Pokrajac – eliminated day 1
CEE
Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia
Josef Král (judge)
Alex Buncombe
Petr Dolezal
Jacek Gorlicki
Pawel Ledwon
Erik Lestach
Martin Hudy – eliminated day 1
Daniel Sinka – eliminated day 3
 

QUOTES OF THE DAY


John Foster – UK, the youngest competitor at this year’s Race Camp (18 years old)
“It feels great to be at Race Camp, really exciting. I think being the youngest competitor is an advantage. They’re looking for a young racing driver and don’t want someone who is past their best; they want someone who can improve over time and become a really good driver. I think it also gives me an advantage on the fitness side, which I’ve been working on since National Finals. It’s going to be tough though, it’s really close between us I think. Coming here, there wasn’t anyone that we expected to go first, so it’s going to be interesting to see who goes at the end of this day.”

Ivan Brigada – Italy, the oldest competitor (33 years old)
“First of all, I want to thank Nissan and Sony for this big chance and opportunity that they have given us. We are very happy to be here at Silverstone and excited for the programme, so I hope to stay for the whole of Race Camp. Today we started with an amazing stock car race on a short oval in the Nissan Micra which was very fun. In the first race, I had a little bit of bad luck but I was very fast in the second. Then we came back to this amazing place and already got to try the Nissan 370Z on the National Circuit. There are no words to explain the feelings that car gave me, it was incredible. Being the oldest competitor may be a bit of an advantage because I am more calm, but when you close the visor on your helmet, age isn’t important; you just think about pushing and giving it everything you’ve got.”

René Arnoux (Fra, 65) – Former Formula One driver and French mentor and judge
“It’s always difficult after one day to make a decision about who to eliminate from GT Academy, but it is necessary to do this. In this sport you must win, if you don’t win then you are eliminated. In the end our decision was not too difficult as one guy was not as fast as the others and I didn’t see the desire and determination in his eyes. All these guys have the possibility to stay here for a week driving fantastic Nissan sports cars. I could only dream about that when I was younger. I think this guy was having a great time, but I couldn’t see the desire that you need to succeed in this sport.”