I am delighted to bring you news of the continued exploits of a PlayStation gamer who some of you may have heard of – a young chap from Spain called Lucas Ordoñez.
Those of you who are Gran Turismo or GT Academy fans may recall the story of Lucas – the winner of the inaugural GT Academy back in 2008. Following successful campaigns in the European GT4 Cup driving a Nissan 370Z, this year Lucas stepped up to race a Nissan-powered LMP2 car in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. With his Signatech Nissan team-mates, Franck Mailleux and Soheil Ayari, Lucas fulfilled a lifelong ambition by competing in one of the greatest races in the world – the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Following an epic LMP2 battle at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe, the Signatech Nissan team suffered two punctures, before fighting their way back through the field to earn an extraordinary 2nd in class finish. The result saw Lucas, who in 2008 was MBA student playing Gran Turismo at home, celebrating a podium finish at the end of the action packed Le Mans 24 Hours race.
Here’s what a very jubilant Lucas had to say:
“It was a day when all of my dreams came true. Three years ago I won an amazing prize but never in my wildest dreams did I think that it would take me all the way to the Le Mans podium. I have been on the biggest adventure you could ever imagine and I must thank Nissan and PlayStation for creating GT Academy! I also have to thank my two teachers, Franck and Soheil, from whom I have learnt so much, and of course the Signatech Nissan boss, Philippe Sinault. Finally I must thank my family and friends for putting up with me while I pursue my dream. It will take a while for this to sink in for me but so far it is the most amazing feeling.”
Among those watching Lucas’ spectacular achievement was the new 2011 crop of GT Academy hopefuls. The 12 competitors – representing France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK – were chosen from the fastest GT5 gamers. They started this year’s GT Academy Race Camp, with their own endurance race at the Alain Prost Karting Circuit at Le Mans.
From Le Mans, the potential racing drivers drove a convoy of red and white GT Academy Nissan 370Zs to Silverstone Circuit. They now face a testing four-day schedule consisting of fitness, mental and driving challenges. You can see each contestant profile and follow their progress on www.facebook.com/GTAcademy.
GT Academy Race Camp 2011 culminates in a Grande Finale on Thursday where we will be crowning the 2011 GT Academy winner. Following the astonishing achievements of Lucas, has given this year’s GT Academy contestants all the inspiration they need in their quest to become a real racing driver.