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British driver Jann Mardenborough crowned GT Academy 2011 Champion

Silverstone, Thursday 16 June 2011 – The 2011 GT Academy Race Camp drew to a thrilling conclusion today when 19-year-old Jann Mardenborough from Cardiff took the chequered flag in a four-way, 20-minute race on Silverstone’s national circuit. Pole position and the race win in the Nissan 370Z was enough to satisfy Head Judge Eddie Irvine that Jann was a worthy winner of GT Academy 2011 – a collaboration between Nissan and PlayStation® that saw over 90,000 people from 10 European countries take part on the Gran Turismo®5 game.

Jann will now begin an intensive Driver Development Programme and compete in a number of UK national races to enable him to qualify for an International race licence. In January, 2012 he will line up on the grid of the Dubai 24 Hour race in a Nissan 370Z GT4 car – the ultimate prize in what has become the ultimate racing competition since its inception in 2008.

Thibault Lacombe (FRA), Carlos Murillo (ESP) and Danilo Bordino (ITA) finished in that order behind Jann in both the race and the overall competition. These four had been selected earlier in the day by Irvine for the final race challenge. Sascha Meyenborg (DEU) and Thomas Arends (NED) had been eliminated after their first taste of driving a real GT4 race car around Silverstone’s Stowe Circuit.

Race Camp started on Friday, 10th June at the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race where the 12 super-quick gamers gathered to watch Lucas Ordoñez, winner of the first Academy, complete his journey from the virtual world of PlayStation®3 to become a real racing driver.

Lucas and his Signatech Nissan teammates – Franck Mailleux and Soheil Ayari – clearly demonstrated to the GT Academy finalists the potential of the programme when they took second place in the LMP2 class. To graduate from PlayStation gamer to the Le Mans 24H podium in less than three years is an incredible achievement.

The 2011 Race Camp held a variety of challenges that included karting, driving Nissan 370Zs, GT-Rs and single-seaters, high-pressure pursuits, a military-style assault course, driving a full race-spec GT4 car and even aerial dog-fights in stunt planes.

“I am really buzzing, ecstatic,” said a jubilant Jann. “This competition is going to change my life massively. I can’t imagine, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m not sure about the next Lewis Hamilton, but being the next Lucas Ordoñez would be a pretty good start.

“This whole experience has been amazing and I would like to thank everyone involved, especially, PlayStation® and Nissan. A massive thank you to my mentor this week, Johnny Herbert. He is amazing. Such a great guy and a great teacher."

Four-time Formula One winner and Head Judge Eddie Irvine said: “I have been surprised by this experience. When I arrived, I saw there was some work to do, but the six that made it through to the final day did so because they reacted positively and showed some real grit and determination.

“Jann did a great job throughout and the final decision turned out to be fairly straight forward. He has been given an amazing opportunity by PlayStation® and Nissan, but the hard work has only just begun for him. Even with this head start, making a career in racing is tough and he’ll have to have talent, determination and luck in pretty much equal measure if he is to make it. I’ll keep an eye on him and hope he doesn’t let me down."