FRANKLIN, Tenn. – An unemployed 29-year old mechanic from Plainfield, Ill., toppled 15 of North America's fastest virtual racers at the track to win Nissan GT Academy North America Season 2. Steve Doherty won a series of on- and off-track challenges designed to find out which of the top 16 Gran Turismo® virtual racers had what it takes to outdrive and outlast the others to earn a seat in a Nissan race car.
Set at England's legendary Silverstone circuit, the six-week GT Academy television series captured every challenge and all of the human drama of an intense week of racing boot camp. Pro racers Danny Sullivan, Maryeve Dufault and Boris Said evaluated the contestants and each week sent those who didn't measure up home. Doherty emerged as the winner and will remain in the U.K. to undergo intensive professional racing training that will qualify him for an international racing license.
Doherty made it to the GT Academy North American finals in 2011 but missed the final 16 at Silverstone by six tenths of a second.
"After being so close, I knew I could never let a chance like that slip through my fingers again," said Doherty. "That's where my history in sports helped me. The only person who can motivate you is yourself. I knew I would never get another chance like this, so I tried to make the best of every day. All of the hard work and commitment has paid off in the biggest way possible, but there's much more work ahead."
Doherty's ultimate dream is to compete in the Daytona 24 Hour, but he has other challenges to master first. On Jan. 10, he and three other GT Academy Champions from Europe will team up in a race prepared Nissan 370Z to race at the Dubai 24 Hour race in the Middle East. Last year, a similar team including 2011 GT Academy North America winner Bryan Heitkotter captured a podium finish by finishing third in class at Dubai. Heitkotter went on to make a splash in Grand Am Continental Challenge racing by taking two pole positions and four top-ten finishes in a Nissan Motorsports-Doran Racing 370Z.
"It's impressive how well the concept has worked," adds racing veteran and GT Academy judge Boris Said. "Not every video gamer has what it takes to race wheel to wheel on the track, but for some the talent and the desire to compete is strong enough to make it successful."
All six episodes can be viewed on Nissan's web site at http://www.nissanusa.com/gtacademyshow/show. The GT Academy program was conceived by Nissan and Sony and developed by TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles and OMD. Critical Mass is responsible for the GT Academy website, Pit Pass second-screen experience and first-person Facebook video.
About Gran Turismo®
With more than 65 million units sold worldwide, the award-winning Gran Turismo® franchise for the PlayStation®, PlayStation® 2 and PLAYSTATION® 3 is regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulation ever created due to its true-to-life graphics, physics and real-life cars and tracks. Since the inception of the Gran Turismo franchise, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital Inc. in Japan have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the gamer with the most true-to-life driving simulation within the industry and a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products.
About Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC continues to redefine the entertainment lifestyle with its PlayStation® and PS one® systems, the PlayStation® 2 system, the PSP® (PlayStation® Portable) system, the ground-breaking PlayStation® 3 (PS3™) system and its online and network services the PlayStation® Network and PlayStation® Store.
Recognized as the undisputed industry leader, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC markets the PlayStation family of products and develops, publishes, markets, and distributes software for the PS one, PlayStation 2, PSP and PS3 systems for the North American market. Based in Foster City, California, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC serves as headquarters for all North American operations and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Visit us on the Web at http://www.us.playstation.com
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan's second-largest automotive company, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, and is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 248,000 employees globally, Nissan provided customers with more than 4.8 million vehicles in 2011, generating revenue of 9.4 trillion yen ($118.95 billion US). With a strong commitment to developing exciting and innovative products for all, Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of 64 models under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. A pioneer in zero-emission mobility, Nissan made history with the introduction of the Nissan LEAF, the first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and winner of numerous international accolades, including the prestigious 2011-2012 Car of the Year Japan and 2011 World Car of the Year awards.
For more information on our products, services and commitment to sustainable mobility, visit our website at http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/.
About Spike TV
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Motorsports PR Mgr.
Sr. Director, Product Public Relations
Sony Computer Entertainment America
Worldwide PR & Communications Director