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GT Academy 2013 European Race Camp - Day 6

The 2013 Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy European Race Camp will draw to a close tomorrow with the seven territory champions taking to the track to prove that they have what it takes to make the transition from super-fast Gran Turismo® gamer to real life Nissan Nismo racing driver.

Six of the racing driver hopefuls headed to bed on Day 6 preparing themselves to do battle with the best of Europe on the funal day. For the three remaining Central Eastern Europe (CEE) competitors, however, the tension remained. CEE head judge, GP2 driver Josef Kral, and mentor, Nissan pro driver Alex Buncombe, were unable to separate their competitors and asked for a night to sleep on their decision. The CEE competitors were then regrouped at 0900 on the final day to be informed of the decision.

The 42 PlayStation racers that arrived at Race Camp had been reduced to just 21 for today’s activities – three from each of seven territory groups. Most of the on-track action today took place at the UK’s Rockingham Motor Speedway, approximately one hour from Silverstone. After familiarisation laps of the 2.4km Rockingham ‘Oval’ circuit in Nissan GT-Rs, the competitors were briefed on driving single-seater racing cars. Single seaters require a different driving style from the production-based sports cars the competitors have been used to at Race Camp. Equally testing is racing on an oval circuit for the first time.

Back at Silverstone, the groups all underwent in-depth interviews with GT Academy performance director Simon Fitchett and their judges in order to further assess their personalities, drive and commitment. The GT Academy champion will return to Silverstone for the intensive Driver Development Programme. They will be away from their homes for a sustained period living close to Silverstone and racing each weekend. The competitors must be ready to accept the many sacrifices that come with a career in motor sport.

Finally, the competitors were all back on the familiar Stowe Circuit in the Nissan 370Z race cars. This was their final opportunity to demonstrate their driving skills to their judges and mentors before their deliberations took place and the winners were announced.

And so, the seven territory winners are...

Iberia Miguel Faisca (POR) 24, student from Lisboa
UK Adam Suswillo 21, unemployed from Nottingham
CEE Petr Dolezal 26, technician from Jihlava
Benelux Romain Delva (BEL) 21, student from Modave
Nordics Filip Larsson (SWE) 19, student from Örnsköldsvik
France Jérémy Bouteloup 21, student from Argenteuil
Italy Minh Tuan Nguyen 23, warehouse worker from Viadana

For the final day all seven competitors will enjoy plenty of time on Silverstone’s National Circuit driving 370Z Nismos and the 370Z race cars with the different instructors and their judges and mentors. Qualifying sessions and races will also form part of the decision making process to decide who will be the 2013 GT Academy European Champion, guaranteeing them the intensive Driver Development Programme and the opportunity of a full-season racing the awesome 550ps Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.



Miguel Faisca, Iberian winner
"I feel very good right now. I knew it was tight between me and Daniel and would be a difficult decision for Goncalo and Lucas. Everything went well and now I’m going to try and make the judges proud."

Lucas Ordonez, Iberian Mentor
"It was a very tough decision between two; Daniel and Miguel Faisca. Tomorrow is a big race and we have to choose the guy who is the quickest at the moment, and Miguel is slightly quicker with more experience. Danny’s progression has been unbelievable; he was learning very quick and his improvement was faster and steeper than most. But Miguel is the quickest at the moment so he is the fair winner.

"These decisions are so tough, maybe even more for me as an ex-competitor. This was his dream and it was very difficult to tell him he’s going home. Now we focus on training Miguel to be the winner of GT Academy. It will be great for Goncalo and me to see him fighting to win the final race tomorrow. Hopefully he can beat all the other finalists and win GT Academy."

Romain Delva, Benelux winner
"I can’t believe it. I can’t find the words to describe what I feel right now. I knew I’d done a good job, but at the final test I made a little mistake. But looking at the week overall, they say I was the fastest and most consistent and that’s why they chose me. Now I will do everything I can to make the Benelux team proud and make the judges proud of me by winning GT Academy 2013."

Jérémy Bouteloup, French winner
"This has all been an incredible experience. I have done all I could do and it is fantastic to win the French group. I am very happy, but I have to concentrate on the final day now. This is the most important thing for me. The adventure is not finished yet."

Jann Mardenborough, 2011 GT Academy champion, ahead of leaving Race Camp for Formula 3 testing
"This week’s been really good. The competition is getting bigger and bigger. The new challenges they’ve done this year have been really good, with a lot of new ones I hadn’t experienced before. They’re getting a real variety of experience in different cars. They’ve driven front-wheel drive cars with the Juke Nismo, 370Z Nismo with rear-wheel drive, and the four-wheel drive Nissan GT-R, so they’re getting experience in different cars and in different circumstances.

"The auto-assault course was really good for testing their driving skills, how much finesse and control they have in the car under a pressured situation in a tightly controlled area. Some of them cracked, but a lot of them showed a lot of potential. The highlight of the week for me was seeing the guys in the physical assault course, showing the judges just how much they want to win. It looked brutal, absolutely horrible.

"Some of them came out crying, tears were shed, and you could see how much they were pushing and how much this means to them. You see that they’re giving it everything; they’re willing to be vulnerable and push themselves over the limit, and it’s nice to see that because it shows us they want the prize so much."