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NISMO FESTIVAL 2014
Posted by | December 3, 2014

The GPS Visualizer and Data Logger became compatible with the “Nissan Connect NISMO Plus” in the latest update. Driving data can be analyzed from on-vehicle information recorded while driving on a real life circuit. The current list of compatible tracks include the Fuji Speedway, Nürburgring, Mazda Laguna SECA Raceway, and the Willow Springs Raceway.

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At the NISMO festival where the feature debuted, Lucas challenged the ghost created from the actual driving data of Tsugio Matsuda. There’s been challenges in the past where professional racers challenge laptimes driven in Gran Turismo, but this is a first for a professional racer challenging data from driving in the real world! In the end, Lucas won with a marginal difference. Seeing your driving data in the virtual world as a spectator is a strange sensation; I envy those GT-R owners!

NISMO is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and many famous cars were on display at the Fuji Speedway. In addition to all the GT-R’s, there was the GT-R that won the 2014 Super GT Championship, and the R390 GT1 that was upgraded in GT6. The person who got to ride in the passenger seat in the event is really lucky. It was almost like a Japanese version of the Goodwood Festival.

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Masato Kawabata who brought up the heat in the 2014 D1GP made a surprise appearance with his Greddy 35RX. The over 1000ps spec is impressive, but his experience of having had Mr. Akio Toyoda, the president of the Toyota Motor Corporation in his passenger seat is pretty impressive too. He wowed the crowds here with billowing white smoke. Because the 35 GT-R is an expensive car, you don’t see as many tuned GT-R’s as in the past. But Daigo Saito who has achieved a Japan-US double title in drifting has announced his participation with the car in Formula Drift. It won’t be long before the GT-R rocks the drifting world!

Above the roaring sound filling the circuit, I overheard someone say “Hey that’s a car from Gran Turismo!” and “I used to drive that a lot in GT4”. Actually since I arrived at the Fuji Speedway that’s what I was thinking, that this was like jumping into the garage of Gran Turismo.

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And I’m sure there’s lots of GT players who remember this car. The NISMO 400R was a present car for clearing the International A license test with all gold results in Gran Turismo 1, a test that was the very last and greatest hurdle in the game.

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Looking at the car in person reminds me of those days. There is an aura about the NISMO 400R, that is still loved by professional racing drivers today.

Nissan Motors announced that in 2015, they would be participating in the top class of prototype cars, the LMP1, the WEC, and the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race. It’d be nice see GT Academy drivers making way in the 2015 Le Mans.

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I wanted to take the time to introduce the 4 drivers who came to Japan this time:

 

Lucas Ordóñez

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He’s the first person you think of when you think GT Academy. The first GT Academy champion, Lucas. He reached 2nd in the LMP2 class in his first Le Mans 24 hour race in 2011. In 2013 he became Pro-Am class champion in the Blancpain endurance series, and in 2014 he participated in the Super GT series in Japan, raising his first victory in the 7th race in Thailand, in the GT300 class.

 

Jann Mardenborough

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2011 GT Academy Europe Champion. In 2014 he participated and ranked 9th in the GP3 series, which is said to be the shortest route into F1 racing. He also participated in the Infiniti/Red Bull Racing driver development program.

 

Wolfgang Reip

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2012 GT Academy Europe Champion. He drove the Nissan ZEOD RC together with Lucas in the 2014 Le Mans 24 hour race. Also drove the 24 hours of Nürburgring, 24 hours of Spa, and the 6th round of the Super GT, the Suzuka 1000km.

 

Alex Buncombe

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Because he is often driving the same cars as the GT Academy drivers, he’s often mistaken as being a GT Academy driver himself. Actually his role is to support and tutor the champions of the GT Academy in the actual races. In 2014, he participated in many endurance races including the Bathurst 12 hour race.

 

Just looking at the roster of the GT Academy drivers visiting Japan its pretty incredible, but looking at their profiles it seems it might not be long before we have an F1 champion out of these guys?

And the four drivers returning to the virtual world battle it out in the GT-R GT3!

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While doing time trials, the expressions on the GT Academy drivers faces were like kids at an arcade.

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They really became riled up, making me want to tell Lucas to he needs to cool off! Watching Alex drive, Lucas spoke in broken Japanese “Hayai-ne” (that’s quick) and brought laughter to the crowds watching.

And the outcome of the GT Academy champion battle?

It was Wolfee in the morning and Lucas in the afternoon. The first GT Academy champion’s still got it!

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Though acting like kids here, they are professional front line racers in their cars. Tests for the GT500 machine was also conducted at the NISMO festival, showing its development progress.

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I think I’m gonna keep an eye on their progress.

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And when you talk about world leading GT Players, you have to mention “YAM23”, a Nissan enthusiast who owns a Skyline GT-R (BCNR33).

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Since official Gran Turismo online championships started in 2005, he’s gained many titles under his belt. He’s like the King of GT. His first win was at the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race participation commemoration event, held in Gran Turismo 4. He brought some of his trophies to show us.

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But the King unexpectedly dropped short of the Red Bull 5G Eastern Japan qualifying round held recently, and announced right after the event that he would be “withdrawing from the podium of Gran Turismo” for a while. We have great respect for him, a player who had continued to race in the front lines of official GT events over the last 10 years. In the Japanese championship held in 2006 after he won, he had said “I’ll take on anyone now!!”.

And now in November of 2014, he commented after racing: “Battles at the top are always really fun. That’s why I kind of wanted to win the last one before the end. And I wanted to race Lucas in the real world!”. It seems as though he’s still got the fighting spirit!

This might be unfortunate news for players who have been waiting to race him at the top, but I’m sure his spirit will be passed down to the next generation.

Thank you for the years of dedicated participation!

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