Hello everyone the moment is here! I’m absolutely thrilled to confirm that the GT Academy 2010 Time Trial is now officially live.
The time trial is going to be running from 9AM today until midnight 24th January 2010 and it’s the only way to be in with a chance of making it through to the second ever GT Academy at Silverstone next year.
PlayStation Blog recently managed to get a few minutes with Kazunori Yamauchi, the man behind the Gran Turismo series and he gave us his thoughts on the GT Academy and how this groundbreaking initiative brings together the real and virtual racing worlds.
When the idea of GT Academy was first formulated in 2008, we know that Yamauchi-san was very enthusiastic. Did the result live up to his expectations?
This GT Academy project in which a gamer who trained in the virtual world becomes a racing driver in the real world, was a dream I had when I first started developing a driving simulator, especially because I was confident that one day it would come true. And when it really came to be in last year’s GT Academy, it was incredibly exciting.
Yamauchi-san has met Lucas Ordonez on a number of occasions (AND SEEN HIM RACE?). What are his impressions of Lucas and his achievements so far in his short career?
He is dedicated, calm, and smart. And though he’s serious in nature, he still knows how to have a good time. I think he’s a driver that is able to keep his cool, managing risks out there on the track, while still being able make bold moves when controlling the car. I think it’s these qualities about him that made him the GT Academy winner last year, and what lead to the incredible results that followed. I saw him drive at the 24 hour race in Dubai, and at the opening round of the FIA-GT at Silverstone, and he was a good racing driver right from the very start.
We know that Yamauchi-san is a keen driver himself. Are there any plans for him to race with Lucas and who does he think will be faster?
When I saw Lucas at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, we talked about driving the 24 hours of the Nurburgring together one day. Thinking about possibilities like that is really exciting for me, and I think it’s a dream that is definitely attainable. I would be very happy if we could one day form a team with all the GT Academy winners over the years, and race together. Myself faster than Lucas? I don’t think so. If I were 10 years younger maybe I might be able to drive fast like him!
What can we expect to see in the GT Academy Time Trial from 17th December? Is it a good taste of what we can expect from Gran Turismo 5?
The GT Academy version is something in which you can experience the new car physics, which is the soul, the spirit, the very core of Gran Turismo 5. This is something we have taken a very long time to improve upon. To achieve good laptimes, you need to be both bold and to be able to perform very fine control of the machine, and the learning process involved in that should be a fun experience for the players.
Yamauchi-san has an excellent relationship with Nissan, evidence of which can be seen in his input on the GT-R project. Can he explain how important this on-going collaboration is between PlayStation/Polyphony and Nissan?
Relationships with automobile manufacturers have always been very important to us in Gran Turismo. And that’s because the cars which we cover in the game, is something that is open to society. Gran Turismo is always looking to communicate with the world outside of the game industry. It’s something that will continue to give us new creative motivation and insight, that will influence us and allow us to keep evolving.
Yamauchi-san meets many racing drivers. What is their general attitude to Gran Turismo and what do they reveal about how close the simulation is to real racing?
Many of them were avid fans of Gran Turismo, and all agreed that Gran Turismo serves as a educational manual for driving. It’s been said that it can be used to nurture drivers, as well as to find new and promising talent.
Does Yamauchi-san himself use Gran Turismo as a driving aid before he competes in a race?
Of course. I practice with the same car, on the same track, with the same settings. In the 4 hour endurance race at the Nurburgring I ran in October, the simulated time in Gran Turismo and the actual time on the track only differed by 10 seconds.
Even if the race track is a track that is not included in Gran Turismo, I drive the same car on other tracks to formulate an image before entering the actual race. Even on a different track, prior practice is still effective. In the 25 hours endurance race at the Thunderhill in California that I drove in recently, I was able to get a grasp on the characteristics of the car in just 20 laps of practice.
How involved with GT Academy is Yamauchi-san? Are we likely to see him at Silverstone?
The GT Academy project is full of dreams. It’s because it connects video games with the real world. You might not be able to become a real football player playing a football game, but playing Gran Turismo will give you real driving skills. It might even open paths to becoming a real racing driver. It’s full of dreams in that way. And of course I would like to be there at Silverstone, to witness the drama at the final selection stage.
We understand that the success of the first GT Academy in Europe has led to similar activities in other territories around the world. Can he explain what other programmes are in place?
We’re working on programs for other territories as we speak. We should be able to announce these in the near future.
Does Mr. Yamauchi have any advice for gamers who are thinking about downloading the Gran Turismo Time Trial?
To achieve a good laptime, you need to try various things. But at first, it’ll be hard just to keep the car on the track. It will ultimately require perseverance, as you improve your time by a fraction of a second at a time in each corner. By trying repeatedly though, you should start to see a change in how you view things. It’s important to never give up, and to continually make that effort. Because in the driving world, how to achieve laptimes that may look impossible at first, begins to become more apparent to you just a bit at a time.
Finally, what are Mr. Yamauchi’s hopes for GT Academy 2010?
Because this year’s GT Academy will start off with an elimination round using a free demo version of the game, there should be many more participants than last year’s competition. And because this GT Academy is based on GT5, the physics of the cars have been completely renewed, therefore requiring driving skill that is even more “real” than before.
And that means that we have a greater possibility of finding an even greater racing driver. Who knows, maybe we’ll find another incredibly talented driver like Lewis Hamilton. Just thinking about it has me excited!