All Sim Racer GT Academy Team Takes Podium at Dubai 24 Hours
Today marks a positive day for the sim racing community. Graduates of GT Academy Lucas Ordoñez, Jordan Tresson, Bryan Heitkotter and Jann Mardenborough finished 3rd in class and 26th overall driving the RJN Motosport Nissan 370z at the 2012 Dubai 24 Hours. The team was composed of the various winners of the GT Academy competition that sought to turn fast sim racers into professional drivers. Their background in Gran Turismo 5 and other sim racing titles, along with an intense training regimen by the academy itself, helped them in their quest on acquiring their international racing license and scoring a good result at this year’s 24 Hours of Dubai. While in previous years the GT Academy graduate entry would have at least one professional driver with a non-gaming background racing with them, this year marked the first time that the driver lineup of a team was solely composed of those with roots in sim racing.
The Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy all-gamer team took a podium finish at the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai this afternoon, marking the end of the ‘Road to Dubai’ for the two 2011 winners, Jann Mardenborough and Bryan Heitkotter. They couldn’t have had more appropriate team-mates as they were joined by the 2008 and 2010 GT Academy winners, Lucas Ordoñez and Jordan Tresson in a 370Z race car.
It was Gran Turismo®5 expert turned real racing driver Jann Mardenborough who took the chequered flag after 24 hours of competitive racing where all four gamers showed their skills behind the wheel and brought home a race car without a trace of damage; an amazing feat after an endurance race.
“That was without doubt the weekend of my life,” said Mardenborough. “The only thing that compares to it is winning GT Academy last June. It feels like pure joy. This is just the first step for me and now I hope that my performance in Dubai can take me further.”
“I’m so pleased that we got a good result in our first international 24 hour race,” added Bryan Heitkotter. “We’ve worked hard during the last six months to get to this point and I would say to anyone who wants this as much as I did that you can reach your goals if you focus on them and work hard.”
The first winner of GT Academy, Lucas Ordoñez, started his international racing career in Dubai three years ago and so far his journey has taken him all the way to a class podium in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“This is a great moment,” said Ordoñez. “We have really proved that GT Academy works as to get four gamers to a podium finish at this race is amazing. I am very impressed with my new team mates who have only been racing for six months. They came here and were fast, consistent and didn’t make any mistakes.”
“It was pretty tough in the car and 24 hours is a long time to have to hold it all together,” said second GT Academy winner, Jordan Tresson. “If any of us had made just one slip at any point during the race it could have been game over for us. I want to say well done to Jann and Bryan who were still bedroom gamers just one year ago.”
The boss of the RJN GT Academy team, Bob Neville, was delighted to see the graduates that he has trained achieving an incredible result today.
This is the first time that all four of my graduates have raced together so it is a special moment for me,” he said. “ I couldn’t have asked for two better guys when Jann and Bryan won the European and USA competitions last summer. Like Lucas and Jordan before them they came into this with their eyes and ears open and absorbed everything we taught them. It’s particularly nice that we should do this in Dubai as it was here three years ago that an idea formed by Darren Cox of Nissan and Mark Bowles of Sony Computer Entertainment really came to life. This race was the toughest test and they all passed with flying colours. I’m proud of them all and proud to be part of GT Academy.”
How do you feel about this achievement? Is there a team you could think of from the RaceDepartment community that could do this? What sim would you like to see come out with a competition similar to GT Academy? Sound your thoughts off on these questions and more in the comment section below!
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