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GT Academy

All-gamer driver line-up aiming for Dubai 24 Hours glory

The Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy programme is looking to create gaming and motorsport history when the first ever all-gamer driver line-up competes at the prestigious Dubai 24 Hours (12 to 14 January 2012). All four winners of the highly acclaimed virtual-to-reality motorsport talent spotting contest will now tackle the demanding endurance race as a groundbreaking team sharing the wheel of the awesome 410bhp Nissan 370Z.

The most recent Gran Turismo®5 experts turned real racing drivers, Jann Mardenborough (UK) and Bryan Heitkotter (USA), earned their place in the Dubai 24 Hours when they won GT Academy last summer. Since then they have been on one of the steepest learning curves imaginable to make sure they are up to speed for such a daunting race. Joining the newest recruits will be two ‘old hands’, the winners of Seasons One and Two, Lucas Ordoñez (ESP) and Jordan Tresson (FRA). Lucas was the new boy in Dubai in 2009 but just three years later he is an international champion.

“It’s a good feeling for me to go back to Dubai as this is where it all really started for me, just three years ago,” said Ordoñez. “I know that Jann and Bryan will be very nervous but also very excited to take their GT Academy prize and compete in this race. I also know what an intensive development programme they have been on so they are more than ready for the challenges ahead of them. I hope that, along with Jordan, I can help them to a good result. It’s going to be a tough race due to the heat but I am convinced that Jann and Bryan will prove that they are real racing drivers now, just as Jordan and I did last year.”

Frenchman Jordan Tresson commented: “There is a special buzz surrounding this race, as sharing the car with the other GT Academy winners will prove a unique occasion. We will be making history as the first all-gamer team and this line-up for Dubai is the perfect testament to the success of the GT Academy programme.”

Jann Mardenborough, the 20-year-old based in Cardiff said: “Since winning GT Academy, the last five months have been building towards the race at Dubai and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. I have loved every minute of the driver development programme. I have experienced some amazing highs in the Nissan race car, but it’s been a tough programme. The New York Marathon, was without question, the hardest thing I have ever done. I’ve even been put through training exercises in a heat chamber to prepare for the temperatures in Dubai. I’ll be arriving to the Middle East in great shape and full of confidence. With the experience of Lucas and Jordan by my side, my main goal is to finish the race.”

There will be two other Nissan cars in action in Dubai, all with very different reasons for being there, but all focused on success.

Nissan’s brand new GT3 car, the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, will compete in the A6 class in the hands of Michael Krumm (GER), Tom Kimber-Smith (UK), Franck Mailleux (FRA) and Alex Buncombe (UK). Those four drivers represent championships won in 2011, namely FIA GT1 World Driver’s Championship, the Le Mans Series LMP2 title, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup LMP2 title and the Blancpain Endurance Series’ GT4 crown. Dubbed the ‘Champions Car’ the GT3-specification Nissan GT-R celebrates the successes of 2011 while continuing the new car’s intensive test and development programme.

There will be a third Nissan competing in the race next week as RJN Motorsport will run a second Nissan 370Z for Humaid Al Masaood (UAE), Richard Meaden (UK) and Tetsuya Tanaka (JAP).

The Dubai 24 Hours will receive extensive LIVE coverage on Motors TV, which is broadcast across Europe, featuring on-board footage from the GT Academy Nissan 370Z and the Nissan GT‐R Nismo GT3! Radio Le Mans will also provide full, live coverage of the Dubai 24 Hours race.