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GT Academy 2015 European Race Camp - Day 3

With the hunt for the next European GT Academy champion narrowed down to 28 competitors representing 10 countries, Race Camp took to the Yas Marina track in earnest today. The competitors were put through their paces in the Nissan 370Z race cars on the southern circuit. There were no eliminations scheduled, and the GT Academy instructors spent time in car with the gamers before analysing their performances and coaching them using the data and video obtained from their laps.

The day had started well for the four remaining gamers from each territory. As a reward for their efforts, and to give them a taste of the glamourous lifestyle of an international racing driver, they were ‘upgraded’ to the five-star Viceroy Hotel that overlooks, and indeed straddles, the circuit. Each group of competitors is now based in a luxury suite complete with a PlayStation games set up.

Rob Jenkinson, who oversees driver coaching for the GT Academy Driver Development Programme and was in charge of today’s training, was impressed by the standard of the competitors. “Overall the standard is high,” he commented. “Each and every country has at least one driver who is right up there in terms of lap times, which suggests that it is going to be a very tight competition on the final day. The guys had a decent amount of track-time with my instructors and then also analysing the data to see how and where they can improve. They are like sponges as they soak up the information, and so I expect to see those that may have been slower today improving next time out in the cars.”

The day was finished off with a trip to the doctor! Each competitor has undergone a thorough medical check in line with motor sport governing body regulations - all passed!

As the competitors chase their dream on Thursday, a special treat lies ahead - a taste of luxury and a stunning landmark challenge.

Max Chilton (UK mentor): Today has been really important for me to understand the drivers better. It was nice to see them hit the track for the first time. That was their first time driving a racing car on a track, so it was nice to see them coming out of the cars with smiles like a Cheshire cat. The most important thing for me is they progress well. They did four laps, looked at the data with their instructors, and they all progressed nicely. It was good to see them where they should be.

Olivier Pla (France mentor): Today was when the big things started, with the first track activity for the guys. It’s the first time they’ve been on a racing track not in a PlayStation game, so it was interesting to see how they can translate their Gran Turismo skills to reality. It’s very different, because there is absolutely no place for mistakes in reality and you have to find the limit of the car. We saw some very cool things from the guys, and now we will watch how they develop through the week. It’s too early to say who’s going to be very good or not as some will start slower and build up through the week.

Corbinian Henle (German competitor): “It was amazing to drive on the track today for the first time. I loved it. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but I loved it. The driving is amazing; it’s all I care about.”

Nikodem Wisniewski (Polish competitor): “Race Camp is a really nice experience. It’s quite tough in the beginning for someone with not much experience, but this is an incredible place to visit and great for racing so I’m really happy to be here. Drag racing yesterday was an amazing experience, being able to accelerate in the Nissan 370Z and push the throttle to the maximum.”