A career in motorsport has always been a dream for Nicolas Hammann. The latest Nissan PlayStation GT Academy North America winner has always been keen to involve himself in racing in some form or another. “I grew up a few miles away from Road America. I remember as a little kid riding in a little car seat beside my dad, so living so close to there was really cool.” Competing as a driver seemed out of reach though, due to the costs involved. That was the case, until GT Academy came along and changed his life.
Because the ambition to become a racing driver seemed out of reach, Nicolas was working his way towards an alternative. “My backup was to study mechanical engineering, so I studied at UNC (University of North Carolina) Charlotte because of their motorsport background.” Although his contingency plan was running smoothly, his original dream is now coming to form, and the scale of the prize that GT Academy has provided is never lost on him. “I have this wonderful opportunity from PlayStation and Nissan, so I want to make sure that I always give the most I can.”
Nicolas is currently undertaking the GT Academy Driver Development Program. This world class intensive skills training aims to condense what experience most racing drivers have at least three years to build, into a space of just two months. During this process, the latest batch of GT Academy winners come to the UK to race in a variety of categories. Nicolas enjoys the friendly competition that comes with training alongside European winner Gaëtan Paletou, International winner Ricardo Sanchez and Middle East winner Ahmed Bin-Khanen. “You give us a tricycle, we'd still try to race each other! But you know, it's great because you always have someone pushing you to be faster.” Once Nicolas and the others have been awarded twelve signatures from successfully completing national and club-level races, they will be rewarded with the international racing licence required to compete at the 24 Hours of Dubai in January.
During the most recent test at Silverstone, Nicolas had his first outing in the GT4 spec Nissan 370Z. Prepared by RJN motorsport, it offers excellent preparation for the races ahead. RJN have been involved with the program since the very first GT Academy competition in 2008, and have helped to launch the racing careers of Jann Mardenborough, Wolfgang Reip, and Lucas Ordoñez to name but a few, with Lucas’s most recent success demonstrated by his race win in the Japanese Super GT.
Hardly surprising then, that Nicolas came away from his first test in a GT4 car delighted with the way things had gone. “It was a lot of fun! I still can’t believe that this is what I do for a living now!” He impressed the team suitably too, so everything appears to be going according to plan. His main goal is to continue the same good work into the future. “I always want to be the best I can on track.” Nicolas’ car racing dreams and thankful recognition to Nissan and PlayStation are met with equal determination to repay the faith they’ve put in him, both on and off the track.