AN impressive list of motorsport experts, including current and ex-Formula One drivers have been lined up to coach Nissan’s next batch of young guns in the 2011 GT Academy ‘Race Camp’.
Head judge will be ex-Formula One ace Eddie Irvine and he will lead a team of respected professionals recruited to educate the GT Academy international finalists in the fine art of circuit racing. The world of ultra-realistic Gran Turismo®5 will break into reality starting at the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend and continuing at Silverstone from 13 to 16 June.
Current Italian F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi will be joined by Le Mans 24 Hour and three-time-F1-winner Johnny Herbert, Dutch star Jeroen Bleekemolen and ‘the German Queen of the Nürburgring’ Sabine Schmitz, to take on the role of nurturing the PlayStation®3 young guns. Flying in from their Signatech Nissan Le Mans 24 Hours exploits, original GT Academy champion, Spaniard Lucas Ordoñez, and his French teammate, Franck Mailleux, complete the assembly of mentors.
Over 90,000 hopefuls from across Europe entered the time trial phase, for the competition that uses the Gran Turismo 5 game to unearth real racing talent. The final 12 GT Academy competitors from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK will arrive at the renowned home of British motor racing for a baptism of fire.
Silverstone’s top-level race instructors have devised a series of rigorous driving tests behind the wheel of Nissan performance cars such as the 370Z and GT-R. The competitors will also face a gruelling set of physical and mental contests designed to measure what it takes to become a modern day professional racing driver.
The stakes are high at Silverstone. The 2011 GT Academy champion will immediately move into a comprehensive driver development programme before racing at the Dubai International 24 Hour race in January 2012, in a full race-spec Nissan 370Z GT4 car.
Waiting in the wing of Silverstone’s new pit and paddock complex, Eddie Irvine is poised to pass on years of motor sport experience to the young GT Academy hopefuls. Irvine will be working alongside the GT Academy head of driving Rob Barff, who has extensive experience in both Le Mans Prototypes and all forms of GT race cars.
Eddie Irvine said: “The popularity of GT Academy does not surprise me, given motor sport is one of the hardest sports to break into and there is such a worthy prize at stake. The competitors have already demonstrated their racing credentials on the Gran Turismo game, but it’s now going to be a massive challenge to see which one has what it takes to make the step up to be a real racing driver. We are looking to unveil a new real racing talent, and this will be fully reflected in the toughness of the challenges and judging criteria put in place.”