Can the best Gran Turismo player become a real life racing driver?
The GT Academy started in Europe in 2008, and the possibilities of this innovative driver discovery program based on a reality TV show was undoubtedly proven by the performance of Lucas Ordonez the winner of the GT Academy who stood on the podium of the Dubai 24H race soon after. He later continued to prove himself, achieving a podium finish at the famed LeMans 24 Hour race. The 2011 winner Jann Mardenborough is currently said to be a driver who may answer the next question of “whether a gamer can become an F1 Driver”.
And back again this year at the holy ground of the GT Academy; at the Silverstone Circuit of the UK, an 8 day selection process and test (Race camp) is being held with finalists who have succeeded in winning in their various European countries. This week will determine who is the best of the best out of several tens of thousands of participants.
To become the winner of the GT Academy, the participant must familiarize themselves with real circuit driving within just a few days, while undergoing physical tests, tests of judgment and concentration, as well as undergoing tests of communication abilities important in becoming a true professional racing driver.
In addition as a reality TV show, they are chased by a camera for the entirety of the week. For a person who was just enjoying online races in their living room just a while ago, this is a world that they’ve only known through TV. There are even those who drop out half way though due to the severity of the trials involved.
But even if they don’t make it to become the final winner, everyone gathered here are super players of Gran Turismo who were victorious in the grueling battles that took place in their home countries to be here. I had a chance to speak to some of them, so in this Pit Stop episode, I’d like to introduce some of the national finalists who have gathered at race camp this year.
Shane Green (age 29)
2014 British Finalist
I first discovered Gran Turismo during GT1. Since then I’ve played every title in the series, but in GT5 Prologue I experienced online racing for the first time and learned about the GT academy almost at the same time. And I learned about the fun of competing with drivers having the same passions as I do online, and spent a lot of time developing my skill.
As a person that has dreamt of a career in the world of motorsports, the fact that there was a chance to become a real racing driver at the end of all this made me change my lifestyle to continue challenging the GT Academy.
The first time I participated in the GT Academy was in 2011. My online ranking I think was 53rd, and in the following year of 2012 I was in 8th, and entered the national final for the first time. But there again I was 8th and was not able to progress to racecamp which only had space for 6 people.
In 2013 I became 4th in the online rankings, and I participated in the national final event again, but I was 0.5 points behind at 7th place, and again I did not make it to race camp.
And this year, I was 3rd on the online rankings, and was able to finish the final event in 5th, which finally let me participate in the long sought after race camp!
Normally I work as an IT analyst, and I got married to my wife 5 years ago. Since learning that I could become a professional driver through the GT Academy in 2011, I have dreamt of becoming its winner one day. My time other than for work has been spent for fitness and training, and I’ve felt my body becoming stronger over the years, having lost over 20kg in the process. recently I’ve been running 3.5 miles from work to home to prepare for the GT Academy, and of course when I’m home, I play GT to hone my skills. Living like this, its really very difficult to find time to spend with my wife, but she has always been supportive of me working every day to achieve my dream, and my family including my parents knows that Gran Turismo is a wonderful game that has changed my life, and understand how wonderful the opportunities given to me by Gran Turismo truly are.
So this time, I finally made it into racecamp, but its process has been more challenging than imagined, and I had to give my best every single day. Through this process I learned many things about what is required of a racing driver. It was the hardest experience in my life, but at the same time it was also one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had. Through all the activities and the tests, having been coached directly by experienced and talented judges and mentors, I experienced things I had never known as a driver and about racing.
This time unfortunately I was not able to become the winner, but I was able to come closer than ever before to that dream. Those that share the same passion as I do, I would invite them to make the challenge one of these days. Its already been proven that improving your skill by playing Gran Turismo does make Virtual to Real possible, and this is not just a game, but is something that changes a dream to reality through the virtual world.
Tomorrow, a single winner will be selected from the participants. And August 5th, the night before this final day just happens to be Yamauchi san’s birthday. He received a surprise birthday cake and congratulations from the Gran Turismo super players representing each of their countries, and the smile on his face is that of happiness and gratitude.
At the dinner table, the judges and mentors, Academy hosts and people of Nissan Europe, Winners of the past GT Academies and the GT family of Europe all congratulated him on his birthday.
Tomorrow, a single winner will be born out of the 41 finalists.