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GT Academy spans the globe more than ever in 2015

17 Sep 2015, Posted by Glen Gibson in Automotive, Gaming, Motor Sport

Now in its seventh year, the innovative Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy programme is showing no sign of slowing down. In 2015, a number of new territories took the opportunity to get involved and give its elite Gran Turismo® gamers the chance to pursue a professional racing career with Nissan.

For the first time ever, competitors from North Africa, Turkey, Philippines, Indonesia and Japan had the chance to make their motor racing dreams come true across two GT Academy Race Camps held at Silverstone in August. HPS Jardine were there to join them, being the eyes and ears for keen followers all across the world – writing daily reports on the action and providing regular content across the GT Academy social media channels.

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Race Camp is made up of a number of both driving and physical challenges to determine if the gamers have what it takes to be a real racing driver. Challenges included a ‘GT Ninja’ assault course, an innovative army-style Gymkhana driving race, dune buggy racing and head-to-head monster truck races. Eliminations took place throughout the week with each territory whittled down to one gamer each to take part in the final ten-lap race on the Silverstone circuit.

First up was International Race Camp, made up of competitors from Australia, USA, North Africa, Turkey and Mexico. This was then followed by the inaugural Asia Race Camp, which saw gamers from Thailand, Philippines, India, Japan and Indonesia descend on the home of British motorsport. Such is the widespread reach of the programme, the countries represented by the International and Asia Race Camps have a population of 2.4 billion people – a sizeable talent pool for potential racing drivers!

The coveted prize for the winner of each Race Camp was a place on the Nissan driver development programme, building up to a drive in the 2016 Dubai 24 Hours race in January.

In total, 59 gamers from around the world competed at Silverstone across these two weeks, eager to win the opportunity of a lifetime and access into a sport which is becoming increasingly exclusive to those with funding and a wealth of karting experience. The winners were Matthew Simmons, a 26-year-old postal courier from Brisbane, Australia and Filipino Jose Gerard Policarpio, a 26-year-old customer service agent. Both immediately start their journey with Nissan and will be racing as soon as the beginning of September as they build up to Dubai next year.

Accessibility is the key word that echoes truest with GT Academy and it has opened the doors for aspiring racers that would never normally have had the chance. 2011 European Race Camp winner Jann Mardenborough is the only UK winner and thanks to the programme has raced in the top class of the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours series and is currently in his second season of racing in GP3, a feeder series on the Formula One calendar.

Now it is just European Race Camp that remains, where eight UK hopefuls will be part of a 56-strong field in Abu Dhabi in October. With the UK team mentored by former Formula 1 star Max Chilton, HPS Jardine will be there in the desert to see if one of them can follow in Jann’s footsteps and win the chance of a lifetime.