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GT Academy Programme on a High at Nürburgring

Tuesday, 22 May, 2012: As the number of European entries into the Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy 2012 competition soared to well over 500,000 this weekend, two previous Academy graduates were demonstrating why the gamer-to-racer competition continues to grow in scale and reputation.

Both Lucas Ordoñez, the first ever winner of the innovative competition back in 2008, and Briton Jann Mardenborough, 2011 winner, were in action behind the wheel of two very real Nissan GT-Rs at Germany’s famous Nürburgring over the weekend.

Spaniard Lucas ticked off another of the world’s best endurance races by completing the Nürburgring 24 Hours in a Nissan GT-R. Appropriately, Lucas shared the car with the legendary creator of the Gran Turismo® PlayStation® games, Kazunori Yamauchi. With Yasukichi Yamamoto and Tobias Schulze completing the team, the foursome recorded the SP8T class win with an impressive 30th place overall in the notoriously difficult race around the 25km Nordschleife circuit, dubbed the “Green Hell”. The result is notable considering that the No.123 Nissan GT-R Club Track Edition is a production car, competing against many of the world’s top racing cars.

“It was a pleasure for me to drive with the guys from Japan and very special to share the car with Yamauchi-san who has played such an important part in my career thanks to PlayStation’s partnership with Nissan” said Lucas. “I have learnt a lot this weekend and I have a new respect for the GT-R and this amazing race track.”

Before the start of the 24-hours, Jann Mardenborough had already completed two British GT Championship races on the Nürburgring’s Grand Prix circuit – part of the comprehensive support programme to the main event. Having qualified with an impressive pole position, Jann led Friday’s race from the start and had built up an extraordinary 15-second lead when he pitted at the half-way mark. Unfortunately for Jann and team-mate Alex Buncombe, their pit stop was adjudged by race control to have been half-a-second quicker than the regulation time and the resultant stop-go penalty left them down in third, but on the podium nevertheless.

For Saturday’s race the pair started 10th, and fought their way up the order with Jann taking the chequered flag in fifth position in the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. “Even though we got the podium on Friday, I was disappointed because we wanted the win,” explained 20-year-old Jann. “We had a solid race and good result on Saturday and everything is going in the right direction for us.”

PlayStation®3 owners from 14 European countries currently have the chance to follow in the tyre tracks of Jann and Lucas via the GT Academy 2012 competition. The online qualification demo, especially created by Kazunori Yamauchi, can be downloaded from PlayStation®Store by anyone with a PlayStation®Network (PSN) ID. The qualification process remains open until 24 June and more than half-a-million players across Europe have already entered.