GT Academy 2013 European Race Camp - Day 7
Miguel Faisca, a 24-year-old student from Lisboa, Portugal has been crowned the 2013 Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy European Champion. The super-fast Gran Turismo® gamer has proved over the past seven days at the GT Academy Race Camp at Silverstone to be equally quick in real-life Nissan Nismo sports cars. He will now undertake an intensive Driver Development Programme to ready him for a full season’s racing in 2014 in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 – the stunning GT Academy prize.
Over 765,000 people from across Europe entered this year’s GT Academy competition on a special demo of the forthcoming Gran Turismo®6 game for PlayStation®3. For the fifth instalment of Race Camp, a record 42 gamers gathered at the UK’s famous Silverstone Circuit to begin the process of turning them from virtual to real racers.
Guided by high profile judges and mentors, including former Formula One drivers Johnny Herbert, René Arnoux, Stefan Johansson and Vitantonio Liuzzi, the 42 were divided into seven territory groups. The fierce competition saw the field gradually reduced through a series of challenges that tested driving ability, fitness, attitude, psychological strength and potential.
For yesterday's final day of Race Camp, only one competitor from each of the seven territory groups remained in contention. After repeating a ‘benchmark’ test first completed on day one on Silverstone’s National Circuit in a 370Z Nismo, the competitors took to the track for practice and qualifying sessions in 370Z race cars. Coming from no real racing experience one week ago, the seven competitors had all completed a basic ARDS race licence during their time at Race Camp as well as a number of challenges and coaching sessions to ready them to take to the track for a race off.
The rain started just as the two heats got under way. The top two finishers from each heat progressed to the final leaving Italian Minh Tuan Nguyen (23) and Jérémy Bouteloup (21) from France eliminated after heat one and Petr Doležal (26) from the Czech Republic after heat two. Lining up on the grid for a final race were Miguel, Romain Delva (21) from Belgium, Filip Larsson (19) Sweden and Adam Suswillo (21) from the UK. Romain started well and led the first of eight laps. However, on lap two he spun in the wet conditions allowing Miguel through. The Portuguese driver held on until the end despite a late charge by Adam Suswillo.
After a deliberation by the GT Academy judging panel, Miguel was announced as the Champion. He will return to Silverstone in October to begin his intensive training programme alongside the winners of the German, Russian and USA Race Camps.
“I’m very proud,” said a delighted Miguel. “I didn’t expect to win this morning. I don’t think I was one of the favourites. But I was feeling good with the car and the track and I quite like the rain conditions. I didn’t get a good start and I was second. Once I got into the lead it was very difficult to keep it, but I am so happy. This is the start. It is going to be very hard work, but I can’t wait to get going. Thanks to Nissan and PlayStation for this opportunity. It is fantastic to be the first Portuguese winner.”
“This is the fifth GT Academy and we have come a long way since 2008,” said Darren Cox, Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport. “All of the PlayStation gamers have come here better prepared than ever before and the competition is fierce. It is good to see, however, that at its core, GT Academy remains true to its principles. It is growing, developing and gaining credibility each year. It was very satisfying to see how our winner from last year [Wolfgang Reip] was here doing an amazing job as a mentor, showing how much he has grown as both a driver and personality, while our first winner Lucas [Ordoñez] has now mentored our new winner.”
“It’s very rewarding for anyone involved with Gran Turismo – including the community of fans – to watch GT Academy grow,” added Nick Caplin, Head of Communications from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “It’s great to see that the finalists were able to be so quick in real Nissan racing cars at the beginning of the week and to be then involved in fantastic races by the end. Having a GT6 demo at Race Camp featuring the Silverstone circuit has also been a welcome addition and probably made the transition even easier. Congratulations to Miguel, we look forward to watching his progress as he begins his racing career with Nissan.”
QUOTES OF THE DAY
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Italian judge
“We’ve had another great year at Race Camp. Everything was really competitive. The tests for the guys were really difficult and the standard was very high. It’s been an amazing week again and everyone has done a great job. I’m disappointed Minh didn’t get to the final, he was really close, and showed good potential. Miguel put everything together though and had an amazing final. At the end of the day, I think he’s the guy that deserved to win GT Academy the most.
"For sure Minh has good talent and can have a good future ahead of him, but the Portuguese guy was spot on. As drivers, we like to compete at everything; running, cycling, PlayStation and in the car. I’m a competitive person and when I saw the competition on Gran Turismo 6 I jumped on it. It took me a while to get used to the style because I’ve not played a lot, but once I got the feeling for the game I put some good laps together. I can still improve though, so will be back on it tonight.”
Lucas Ordonez, Iberia judge
“It’s amazing to have a Portuguese winner. Team Iberia had an amazing week! It was very tough to choose our final Iberian winner, but we showed we chose the right one. Miguel did an amazing job. He was the fastest on the racing, winning two races and coming second in the qualifying, so I’m very happy right now. The best thing is seeing all of Team Iberia up on the podium now celebrating, not only Faisca, but all the other guys celebrating with him. It’s been an amazing time for them, Goncalo and me.”
Simon Fitchett, GT Academy Performance Director
“Miguel had a lot of composure. He’s a very intelligent guy and is also very fit; he’s done a lot of work on himself physically coming into this competition because he wanted to be in good shape, and he was. I think he proved during the week that he’s strong mentally, he’s willing to learn, he listens and he does what is advised of him. I think that’s why we’ve seen him progress so well this week.
"His improvement curve has been immense, he’s got quicker and quicker, and he really grew into the competition as he got more confident. I think he showed that today. He took his opportunity well, he started to lead the race and led all the way to the end. He did everything that was asked of him in both races, winning both, and you can’t ask for much more than that. Adam started to catch him in the last race, but I think by then he was maximising the distance he had in the best way he could and was careful to avoid any mistakes.”
Johnny Herbert, Head Judge
"It’s been another interesting journey this year. We’ve seen the guys grow through the whole week, even up until the last moment, like Adam who was still growing until the very last lap. It was a difficult one to decide because the finalists we had were so close. It was very impressive. The race typically showed the true grit that they had. Miguel was able to get in front, which is never easy, but once you’re in front, you’ve got nothing in front of you, you’re looking in mirrors, you can see the guys closing down, as in Adam, and you’ve got to be able to hold your wits.
"Miguel did that. He did a fine job of controlling the race. Adam was putting in some really fast laps as well, but it was impressive how Miguel was able to take hold of the pressure that was thrown upon him, winning the race, making no mistakes, and I think that’s why we agreed that he was the guy that through the whole week had been strong and then was able to deliver when needed. That’s exactly what we need in GT Academy and for the Nismo Athletes for next season."
Bob Neville, RJN team boss
"We’re delighted to have a new winner from GT Academy. The system hasn’t failed yet, so we’re looking forward to Miguel coming on board. The team goes to the Nürburgring for Blancpain, then off to Navarra the following weekend, and then the following weekend we’ll be at Castle Combe now with Miguel. So it’s a very quick start to his programme."
Petr Doležal, Czech competitor and CEE Champion (eliminated after the heats)
"I’m disappointed, of course. I didn’t do well in the wet, and so I couldn’t win. But I have to thank Nissan and PlayStation. GT Academy has been a fantastic experience and I have really enjoyed my time here and learnt so much."