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Four GT Academy Champions take on the 2013 Dubai 24 Hour Race

The GT Academy is a project that turns skilled Gran Turismo players into real racing drivers. In 2012 the qualifying round in each country began with the release of the time-limited Demo "GT Academy 2012".

The 'GT Academy' is a project that turns skilled 'Gran Turismo' users into real racing drivers. In 2012 the qualifying round in each country began with the release of a brand-new gaming format, entitled 'GT Academy 2012'. The final selection was carried out at Silverstone Circuit in the UK, where four champions have emerged from Europe, Germany, Russia and the U.S. Right now they are camped at Silverstone, fiercely training for the 24 Hours of Dubai in January. The four drivers have undergone daily driving, physical and mental training as well as racing every weekend. Here are their profiles:

 

Wolfgang Reip (European GT Academy 2012 Champion)

Rising to the top of 830,000 participants including 6 regions and 11 European countries, is Wolfgang Reip.

In the last race of the final selection that went on for 8 days, he achieved a flag win despite the difficult wet course conditions. He even had Bas Leinders, a racing driver from his home country declare that "He is top notch and can really do it. In the deliberation I put my reputation on the line arguing his case".

Fan of Ayrton Senna, Reip has always had a love of motorsports since he was a child. He hopes to someday compete at the famed Spa Francorchamps circuit in his native Belgium and to even win a race there.

 

Peter Pyzera (German GT Academy 2012 Champion)

This year, Germany held its own independent competition separate from the rest of Europe. Out of 95,000 participants emerged Peter Pyzera as the first German GT Academy winner.

Pyzera grew up in Hindenburg of northern Germany, and watched Formula 1 as a child when Michael Schumacher was dominating; however, Pyzera’s real love is the World Rally Championship (WRC). He was fascinated by Sebastian Loeb's driving technique, and would go searching for mud trails and dirt roads to drive on his days off.

Though he has had no race experience, you can tell he really loves cars, having already owned about 16 cars to the present. He is now taking the first steps in his new career as a racing driver, and hopes to one day become a driver in the WRC.

 

Mark Shulzhitskiy (Russian GT Academy 2012 Champion)

In the search for more racing talent, Russia is a newly added region to the GT Academy competition. This year, the first Russian competition was held, and Mark Shulzhitskiy emerged on top of 32,000 participants.

Mark who hails from Vladivostok located in eastern Russia, is 23 years old. While most of his friends were getting into Ice Hockey, his father's influence had him interested in motorsports, and he has more than a few go kart racing trophies under his belt.

But unlike the other champions of the Academy, Shulzhitskiy didn't have much experience playing Gran Turismo. His first exposure to the game came in 2011 when he bought a PlayStation® 3 just to play Gran Turismo 5, and it completely changed his life.

 

Steve Doherty (U.S. GT Academy 2012 Champion)

Across the ocean from Europe in the United States, Steven Doherty of Plainfield, IL rose to the top and beat out 400,000 competitors to win the coveted title of 2012 GT Academy US champion.

With a natural passion for racing and motorsports, the 29-year old had previously entered into low-cost compact car races for fun prior to winning GT Academy. Playing 'Gran Turismo' had deepened his interest in cars, and he became a mechanic after graduating from an automotive school. Now well on his way in his new career, he dreams of someday racing in the 24 hours of Daytona.

The qualifying round of next year's Dubai 24 Hour Race held in the UAE starts on Thursday, January 10, 2013. Watch the action of the two Nissan 370Z GT4s driven by the four GT academy champions!