Jose Gerard Policarpio from Philippines Becomes First-ever GT Academy Asia Winner
Jose Gerard-Policarpio from the Philippines has won the opportunity of a lifetime at Silverstone today after being named the first-ever Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy Asia champion.
The 26-year-old fought off competition from 28 of the best Gran Turismo® gamers from across Asia, winning a place on the Nissan Driver Development Programme and a race seat in the 2016 Dubai 24 Hours. The decision came after an epic six-day Race Camp, with Policarpio chosen as the winner for his consistently impressive performances throughout the week and a well-driven final race.
Race Camp came to an end with a thrilling ten-lap race around Silverstone’s International Circuit in Nissan 370Z NISMO race cars which went right down to the last corner. Pole-sitter Andika Rama from Indonesia started the race well and led into the first corner, ahead of Policarpio from the Philippines who had leapfrogged Takuya Takahashi from Japan. Policarpio quickly got on the tail of Rama and for the first four laps the pair crossed the line separated by under a second with Takahasi settled in third just under two seconds behind. However after patiently waiting for his opportunity, Policarpio then made his move on the fifth lap to incisively take the lead of the race. Unfortunately the fifth lap proved to be the end of Takahashi’s race as he limped into the pits with a mechanical problem. This left Policarpio and Rama to fight it out unchallenged at the front, with the pair once again staying in very close proximity.
The drama was saved for the last lap however with Policarpio getting a very slow exit out of Club corner, this left Rama right on his tail and after following him closely through Stowe, was poised to make a move into the final corner. Rama went for the move but some impressive defensive driving from Policarpio meant he held on and crossed the line just two-tenths clear of his rival.
Jose Gerard Policarpio, Philippines competitor and 2015 GT Academy Asia Winner: “I can’t even believe I won, it’s amazing, I feel so good. Never in my life did I think I’d be here. The race was so nerve-racking, when I got past Andika at Abbey I just kept looking back because he was starting to gain on me. I didn’t even notice the chequered flag, it just sunk in when I got back in the pitlane that I won. It’s just amazing!”
Policarpio earned his place at Race Camp from the hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo gamers that entered the competition across Asia. Having won through the Philippines National Final, he arrived at Silverstone as one of six to represent the Philippines, alongside 28 Asia competitors overall, split into five territory groups. 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.
The on-track action got underway in the United Kingdom on Saturday, with six finalists from Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and five from India making up the 29-strong line-up. For Japan, Philippines and Indonesia, this was the first year that a GT Academy competition had been run in their territory, with both Thailand and India debuting as part of GT Academy International in 2014. While Mexico’s Ricardo Sánchez was the 2014 winner, the opportunity provided a springboard for the racing careers of territory winners Thanaroj Thanasitnitiket (Thailand) and Abhinay Bikkani (India) who have both picked up wins in this year’s Nissan Micra Cup, based in Canada.
Throughout their time at Asia Race Camp, a series of both racing and physical challenges whittled the gamers down to a final ten this morning that were still in contention of being GT Academy Asia champion. Each judge then had to decide between their two best drivers for who would take the wheel of the 370Z NISMO race cars for a ten-lap race of Silverstone’s International Circuit.
The challenges came thick and fast throughout their week at Race Camp, with gamers being thrown into the action straight away on their first day where they got behind the wheel of single seaters, Caterham racers, Nissan GT-Rs and JPLM cars at Bedford Autodrome. Throughout the week, various surprise challenges were thrown at them including the ‘GT Ninja’ assault course, an innovative army-style Gymkhana driving race, dune buggy racing, head-to-head timed shootouts on the Silverstone track and an incredibly eventful Nissan Micra stock car race which saw only two cars finish which decided the starting grid for today’s final race.
Rob Barff, 2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy Asia Head Judge said: “Jose Gerard has had pace all week, he’s been right at the top of our score sheets and he was second in the race up until the point when Indonesia made one mistake. He continued to drive clinically and he never made an error. I’m really really proud of him. We’ve had our eye on him since Bedford earlier on in the week, he’s been in our top three to watch and I look forward to working with him in the future.”
Darren Cox, Nissan Head of Motorsport: “Congratulations to Jose Gerard on becoming our first-ever GT Academy Asia champion. The global expansion of GT Academy has been fantastic this year and we’re delighted to have been able to host the first-ever Asia Race Camp. I can’t stress enough how much enthusiasm the new markets have had for the competition and how they’ve embraced it with open arms. They only have to look at the instant rewards and opportunities that drivers from new markets have been given as a result of GT Academy and it’s great that we’re able to provide them this unique route into the world of motorsport.”
Policarpio’s opportunity of a lifetime will begin right away, where he will receive world-class racing tuition and physical training from Nissan to prepare him for his endurance race debut in Dubai next January, where he will be part of the same driver line-up as International Race Camp winner Matthew Simmons.