If you were the type of kid who obeyed their parents when they told you to get off the Playstation then you should probably kick yourself right about now. The Gran Turismo Academy (GT Academy) is an intensive game-based program which pitches the world’s best Gran Turismo players against one another before grooming them into world-class race drivers for the real world.
Sounds simple enough right? It’s wise to bear in mind that these mostly-male contestants have spent an insurmountable number of hours in front of the screen to reach this level of competition.
The biggest news however is that a 26-year old Australian has taken out this year’s event for the first time ever. Queensland contractor Matthew Simmons beat out 29 international contestants and will be put through Nissan‘s intense race training to mould him into a fully fledged race driver for the team.
And for the doubters out there who don’t believe a computer game can mould a real race car driver, earlier this year two graduates helped Nissan take the coveted crown at the Bathurst 12 Hour Championship.
“I genuinely can’t believe it,” expressed Simmons of the win.
“I’m on top of the world. Unfortunately a mechanical problem took the race out of my hands but that’s motorsport and you can’t hide that, and I think in the early stages of the race I really showed the potential of what I can do. The wait on the podium was killing me but when Rob said my name I had to do a double take, I can’t believe he said it and I’m now a racing driver!”
Simmons will see his first stint of real racing at the Dubai 2016 24 Hour race after his training.
Richard Emery, CEO of Nissan Australia explained that “it’s a bit of a hidden program we need to do more with, as you can see the quality of drivers it’s producing.”
“I think we probably underestimate what it’s like for a guy who two years ago didn’t have a racing license and is now racing in the dark at Mount Panorama.”