SILVERSTONE, UK – The NISMO PlayStation® GT Academy 2014 European Race Camp drew to a thrilling conclusion at the UK's Silverstone circuit today as Gaëtan Paletou, 22 from Barzun in France, was crowned champion. He will now go on to enjoy four months in one of the most advanced and successful driver development programs in the world before racing for the Nissan NISMO race team in the international Dubai 24 Hour race in January 2015.
Gaëtan Paletou now has the chance to show that he has what it takes to become a NISMO Athlete and race all over the world for Nissan, following in the footsteps of the likes of Lucas Ordoñez (now racing in Japanese Super GT) and Jann Mardenborough (a racer-winner this year in the highly-competitive GP3 Formula 1 feeder series).
Gaëtan won his place at Race Camp from the hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo® gamers that entered the competition across Europe. Having won through National Finals, he arrived at Silverstone as one of six to represent France, alongside 41 European competitors overall, representing 12 countries split into seven territory groups.
Over the course of eight days, the competitors were put through their paces both on and off track. They enjoyed some of the best racing instruction and mentoring in the world in a range of Nissan cars, including the mighty GT-R, the 370Z NISMO and 370Z race cars. Each group formed a close bond with their territory judge, who acted as a mentor, but then had to make the difficult decisions when it came to eliminations from the competition.
As well as the circuit driving and assessment, the competitors were judged on a series of challenges that included the Mud Mayhem assault course, Nissan Micra Stock Car racing, the Pit Stop Challenge in the Nissan Juke NISMO, the head-to-head Gymkhana, Rage Buggy Racing, the Traffic Challenge in the Nissan GT-R, a head-to-head Dogfight pursuit race in Nissan 370Zs and the Ride-Along Challenge with their judges that included ex-F1 racers René Arnoux and Dani Clos, Rob Barff, Tim Coronel and GP2 stars Luca Filippi and Josef Kral.
Gradual eliminations led to today's finale when each judge had to decide between their two best drivers for who would take the wheel of the 370Z race cars for an eight-lap race of Silverstone's international circuit. A qualifying session saw two drivers eliminated with five going on to race.
The race itself featured drama from the outset. Three cars headed into turn one side by side, but the Italian driver on the outside turned into his Belgian adversary who, in turn, hit the Portuguese driver who was making a dive down the inside. The Italian's race ended in the gravel while his Iberian adversary limped home to the pits. The beneficiary was Gaëtan, who was able to capitalize on the incident to take a commanding lead that he held until the flag. Behind him British driver Karl Chard was running second, but appeared to miss a gear allowing Belgian Cedric Wauters into second.
After some heated judges' deliberations, it fell to long-term GT Academy head judge, and ex-Formula One racer, Johnny Herbert to announce the winner on the Silverstone Grand Prix podium with Gran Turismo creator and President of Polyphony Digital Inc. Kazunori Yamauchi and NISMO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales Darren Cox on hand to present the trophies.
"It's incredible," said an extremely happy Gaëtan. "I was so happy that I won the race, but I didn't know that I would win GT Academy. It is very special for me and my friends who have supported me. This has been a very good experience – a long, hard week and very tight competition so I am so happy to win. Now I have to keep pushing to the next step."
Darren Cox has been a driving force behind GT Academy since its inception. "I have enjoyed the experience of every Race Camp since we started, and it is just getting bigger and better each year," he said. "GT Academy has proved again and again that it can deliver fantastic racing drivers who are recording impressive results for us all over the world. Its success is backed up by the huge amount of interest in GT Academy among the motor sport community and the public alike. Gaëtan can draw inspiration from some impressive previous winners, and with the fantastic training and opportunities that he will receive over the next four months, I have every confidence that we will have unearthed yet another racer than can make their mark in motor sport."
Also watching the denouement of Race Camp was Kazunori Yamauchi, who founded the competition with Nissan in 2008. "I have been very impressed by this year's European Race Camp and the standard already achieved by the Gran Turismo gamers. It feels like we now hand over our gamer into the safe hands of Nissan, who will continue his development as a real racing driver. This is a unique and special partnership, and I am very proud of what we have achieved together. It was great to meet so many Gran Turismo fans at Race Camp. I send all of them my congratulations, and I know that they can all draw on the experience of GT Academy to achieve their goals in life. Special congratulations go to Gaëtan for his impressive victory."
About GT Academy 2014
GT Academy is a collaboration between PlayStation® and Nissan that uses the virtual world of the Gran Turismo®6 game to unearth real-world racing talent. Now in its sixth year, GT Academy includes separate competitions for Europe (France, Italy, UK, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Russia, Sweden, Poland and Czech Republic), Germany, North America (USA and Canada) and a new International group (Australia, India, Middle East, Mexico and Thailand).
The GT Academy qualification round will be part of a free Gran Turismo®6 update on PlayStation®3 (terms and conditions apply). The fastest gamers in each participating territory gain access to their region's National Final event. A number of competitors can also gain access via a series of Live Gran Turismo® events organized locally, and via a Facebook game entry mechanism that leads to a special Gran Turismi®6 qualifying event. The National Finals add driving, fitness and a media element to the gaming.
From National Finals, the action moves to Silverstone for the legendary Race Camp, where the competitors are put through their paces on track in Nissan sports cars under the watchful eyes of high profile judges and mentors. One winner from each competition will be invited to take part in the intensive Driver Development Program. They could qualify for an international race license and race for Nissan at the Dubai 24 Hours in January 2015, before potentially joining Nissan's elite NISMO Athletes.
Previous winners of GT Academy are now regular racing drivers. In 2014, Jann Mardenborough (UK, winner in 2011) will be racing in GP3, a feeder series to Formula One, with the championship-winning Arden International team. Lucas Ordoñez (Spain, winner in 2008) will be racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours this year in the innovative Nisan ZEOD RC, alongside Wolfgang Reip (Belgium, winner in 2012). In 2013, Lucas won the Pro-Am Drivers Championship in the Blancpain Endurance Series. The 2013 Champions, Stanislav Aksenov (Russia), Miguel Faísca (Europe), Nick McMillen (USA) and Florian Strauss (Germany) are competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series with the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN.
News and views on GT Academy 2014 and the progress of all the GT Academy drivers can be followed on various platforms including:
About the Gran Turismo® Franchise
Gran Turismo® celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2013, having first appeared internationally in 1998. The multi-award-winning franchise has been the most successful ever for PlayStation®, and in 2013 it also surpassed worldwide sales of 70 million units. Various iterations of Gran Turismo® have been created for PlayStation® , PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 and PSP (PlayStation® Portable), and have always been regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulators ever created due to true-to-life graphics, authentic physics technology and design. Since the inception of Gran Turismo®, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital Inc. in Japan have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the most realistic driving simulation in the industry and a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products. Gran Turismo®6, the latest iteration of the game, was released on December 6, 2013.
About Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), based in London, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and sales of PlayStation®4 (PS4®) computer entertainment system, PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita) portable entertainment system, PlayStation®3 (PS3®) computer entertainment system, PSPTM (PlayStation®Portable) handheld entertainment system and PSN software and hardware in 109 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania. SCEE has revolutionized home entertainment since they launched PlayStation® in 1994. PlayStation®4 redefines rich and immersive gameplay with powerful graphics and speed, intelligent personalization and deeply integrated social capabilities. PS Vita is an ultimate portable entertainment system that offers a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context. PS3® is an advanced computer system, incorporating the powerful Cell Broadband Engine and RSX processors. PSP® is a handheld entertainment system that allows users to enjoy 3D games with high-quality full-motion video and high-fidelity stereo audio. SCEE also delivers the PlayStation® experience to open operating systems through PlayStation®Mobile, a cross device platform. SCEE also develops, publishes, markets and distributes entertainment software for these formats, and manages the third party licensing programs for the formats in these territories.
More information about PlayStation® products can be found at http://www.playstation.com/www.playstation.com/oblocked
PlayStation®, PS4, PS3, PS2 and PSP are registered trademarks or trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
About Nissan in Europe
Nissan has one of the most comprehensive European presences of any overseas manufacturer, employing more than 14,500 staff across locally-based design, research & development, manufacturing, logistics and sales & marketing operations. Last year Nissan plants in the UK, Spain and Russia produced more than 695,000 vehicles including mini-MPVs, award-winning crossovers, SUVs and commercial vehicles. Nissan now offers 24 diverse and innovative products for sale in Europe today, and is positioned to become the number one Asian brand in Europe.
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