After a successful debut for GT Academy International in 2014, won by Ricardo Sánchez from Mexico, 2015 was graced by the introduction of two new territories, Turkey and North Africa. USA, who had previously run a standalone event, also joined forces with GT Academy International to bolster the competition yet further.
Hundreds of thousands of budding racing drivers across multiple countries took part in the online format of the competition on Gran Turismo®6, whilst others attended live events, in a bid to be crowned 2015 champion and win a place on Nissan’s infamous Driver Development Programme.
A total of one hundred contestants, twenty from each territory, progressed to National Finals that took place in Istanbul (Turkey), Mexico City and Cancun (Mexico), Cairo (North Africa), Gold Coast (Australia) and Nashville (USA).
Only thirty competitors would remain in with a chance of victory as they travelled to Silverstone circuit in the UK to use as their base for a week at Race Camp. On arrival they were greeted by the long-standing GT Academy head judge, Rob Barff, and a mentor that was responsible for each territory. As always the mentors, Ricky Kelly (Australia), Andrew Comrie-Picard (USA), Jason Tahincioğlu (Turkey), Tamer Bashir (North Africa) and Dani Clos (Mexico), came from motorsport backgrounds and would guide, nurture and develop the competitors through the exciting process ahead.
|Head Judge: Rob Barff|
|Judge: Ricky Kelly||Judge: Andrew Comrie-Picard|
|Corey Creed||Matthew Simmons||Armen Aghakhan||Ryan Lynch|
|Tyler Blackburn||Elliott Schutte||Max King||Vladimir Skirda|
|Nick Dalton||Simon Feigl||Joseph Lauro||Tyler Utley|
|Turkey||North Africa (Algeria, Egypt & Morocco)|
|Judge: Jason Tahincioğlu||Judge: Tamer Bashir|
|Huseyin Dagli||Utku Bosut||Armen Aghakhan||Ryan Lynch|
|Volkan Kurdoglu||Cagdas Gulsen||Max King||Vladimir Skirda|
|Ege Topaloglu||Fatih Demircan||Joseph Lauro||Tyler Utley|
|Judge: Dani Clos|
|Donaciano Martinez de Silva||Hector Arellano-Belloc|
|Santiago Montaño Isita||Juan Carlos Carmona-Chavez|
|David Quiroga-Galvan||Claus Schinkel|
During the week at Race Camp the racing driver hopefuls took part in a series of both racing and physical challenges. They were thrust in to the deep end on day one when they got behind the wheel of single seaters, Caterham racers, Nissan GT-Rs and JPLM cars at Bedford Autodrome. This was followed by numerous other challenges including the ‘GT Ninja’ assault course, an innovative army-style Gymkhana driving race, dune buggy racing, monster trucks and a Nissan Micra stock car race which decided the starting grid for the final race.
The final was an epic eight-lap race around Silverstone’s National Circuit in Nissan 370Z NISMO race cars. Matthew Simmons from Australia, starting from pole position, initially lost the lead to Ryan Lynch of the USA but quickly reclaimed the position after Lynch overshot his breaking point in to a corner. Hüseyin Dagli of Turkey became the main challenger for Simmons’ lead and the pair swapped positions down the Wellington Straight for three consecutive laps with some brilliant wheel-to-wheel racing. Unfortunately as Simmons was fending off Dagli on lap five, his car encountered a mechanical problem and lost power, allowing the Turkish driver and Mexican finalist Juan Carlos Carmona-Chavez to pass. A long deliberation took place after the race in which the judges accounted for Simmons setting the fastest lap when his car was healthy, as well as his consistent performances across all challenges throughout the week in a high-pressure environment. Subsequently Simmons was crowned as GT Academy International 2015 champion.