In 2008 Nissan and Sony PlayStation teamed up with an interesting concept – could expert gamers on the Gran Turismo computer game transform their skills to real life racing?
After 25,000 applications in 13 countries they invited the best gamers to a ‘GT Academy’ for intensive training and the results proved to be better than anyone expected.
The programme has already produced drivers such as Spain’s Lucas Ordonez and France’s Jordan Tresson who have both gone on to compete in the 24 hours of Le Mans.
Last year’s GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough teamed up with a pro driver Alex Buncomb and entered the British GT pro-am series - an event where a pro is teamed up with a 'gentleman driver' who is expected to be slower than his partner.
However, despite having no professional driving experience, Mardenborough proved to be as fast as the pros and was so good that the series has now banned further GT Academy drivers from taking part.
“[GT Academy] has shown itself to be a great way to source raw talent and turn that into real racing talent as we saw in British GT last year with Jann Mardenborough,” Benjamin Franassovici, the manager of the series, is quoted as saying in GT Planet.
“Nissan’s ability to find such amazing raw talent means that we cannot accept their full season entry for British GT in 2013.
“Their new recruits have very little racing experience so they have to be on the lowest performance grade. Their talent, going on Jann’s speed last year, doesn’t reflect this lack of experience so it is not fair to put them up against our Pro/Gentleman grid, the basis of British GT3.“
So basically…the computer gamers are considered too fast for the real racing.
Eurosport broadcast a series following the GT Academy drivers last year – you can watch the opening episode below which explains more about the concept.