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GT Academy

GT Academy 2012 Race Camp - Day 5

Second Elimination Sees Race Camp Numbers Reduced To Three Per Group

Wednesday, 22 August, 2012: Race Camp provided more emotion today as another six gamers left the competition. The elimination happened in the morning when the mentors of the six country groups announced that the weaker pair in their group would fight it out in a ‘dogfight’ pursuit race elimination challenge.

With the two strongest participants safe, they were able to react and watch the drama unfold as their team-mates battled to stay in the competition. A familiar exercise in GT Academy Race Camps over the years, the pursuit race saw the two contestants start from opposite sides of the Stowe track. The aim – to try to catch your opponent or, at least, pass your starting position before he passes his after three laps.

The groups provided a mixture of close races and some inevitable mistakes were made under the intense pressure. But in each case there was a winner who stays in the competition while his adversary is out.

The results (eliminated drivers crossed out):

Steven GASSIOTFrancesco Paolo BASSOJack O’NEILL
Following the elimination, spirits were raised by a fun task on Silverstone’s International Circuit in the ‘Traffic Challenge’. Driving a GT-R, each competitor had to demonstrate their race craft by passing a number of instructors driving other GT-Rs. Once passed, the instructors would stick close to the competitor giving them a real sense of being in a race situation and aware of other cars while focusing on their own driving – obviously, a vital skill in racing and different from what the competitors have been used to this week.

The other elements of the day were the second of two benchmark tests – both in fitness and in the 370Zs around Stowe. Identical to tests completed at the start of Race Camp, these provide a measure of progress both on and off the track for the Silverstone instructors and the mentors to assess.

Thursday will see an intensive morning of work on track and off between the mentors and their three remaining competitors. At the end of the day they have a hard decision to take as they will choose their territory champion who will go on to compete to be the 2012 GT Academy Europe champion. The stakes are high with the comprehensive GT Academy Driver Development Programme to come before a race in the prestigious Dubai 24 Hour race in January in a Nissan 370z GT4.


Comments from Day 5 of Race Camp

Thomas Gibson (UK and Ireland) ELIMINATED
“Basically this morning we had the dogfight, the bottom two drivers ‘faced off’ to see who would stay and who would go. It was me and Des; best of the three laps! It was one nil to me then Des took the next two races to take it to 2-1 up. It is frustrating because in the second race, I was ahead, but made a small mistake which cost me the vital tenths - and there were literally tenths in it. In the final race I had a bad first corner and just lost it from there. It's been an incredible experience to be here from just playing a game. To come here and drive all these cars around is unbelievable. I wish I could do it again.”

“I would like to try and carry on racing but I know it’s a very expensive sport. GT Academy does provide a real route into it without money, but for me, it has now ended!”

Des Foley (UK and Ireland) REMAINS
“It was really tense in the dogfight. The guys announced we would be going head to head. They said David and Jack you are safe, Thomas and Des you will be fighting for the last spot. Best of three laps, straight into the cars, no warm up, just three laps with the winner going through and the loser going home. So straight away we drive out to a certain spot on the track, then go! In the first race, I messed up the start, drove around half the circuit in the wrong gear which cost me the race, it was an absolute disaster. I knew going into the second race that if I didn't win I was going home! I drove very smoothly and very well, put Thomas under a lot of pressure and forced him into a mistake. The pressure got to him and not me! It was a great feeling to cross the line and now I get to take the battle to David and Jack. Looking forward to proving myself over the next couple of days.”

Guillaume Blanc (CH) from the Swiss, Austria and Poland group ELIMINATED
“I lost in the dogfight. It was my problem, my fault. The difficulty came from adjusting to the car, there simply wasn't enough time to get comfortable. Lap one was bad, lap two was better, by lap three my speed was very, very good. If there were ten laps then I would have been quickest. It just takes a bit of time for me to understand what the car and tyres are doing.

“GT Academy was very, very, very fun. It has been a magnificent experience. Speaking with real Formula One drivers like Sébastien Buemi and Johnny Herbert was a very positive experience. It will be difficult to continue my dream, but even if it’s just me in my road car doing track days, I've learned from this week to be faster!”

Rolf Ueltschi (AUT) Swiss, Austria and Poland group REMAINS
“We had no idea what was going on until we heard some of the other countries talking about the "dogfight". I expected the elimination later on, in the style of the first round, not a head to head. I knew what I had to do to stay in the competition. I sat in the car and looked at the driver next to me and thought ‘I can beat him’. Either way, I was getting more experience in the 370Z. I told Sébastien (Buemi) that I was sure I was going to win and I did. It was close but I made it!

“The rest of the day went well, although the second benchmark was not as good as our first. Sébastien was not too happy with us. The overtaking activity was very good but it was a great experience first time on the track in the wet. The instructors were really going for it.”

Moreno Coveri (ITA) ELIMINATED
“It was a beautiful experience. I really enjoyed myself. Everything has been fantastic and this was my dream, and so I was really upset after I made a mistake in the dogfight. I met Kazunori Yamauchi, who made the Gran Turismo game, which was just incredible. It was just after I was eliminated, so it was hard to try and express how grateful I am for everything when I was feeling so sad. But it was an honour to meet such a ‘myth’.”

Andrea Fasulo (ITA) REMAINS
“It was fantastic to win. I made some bad mistakes out on the Stowe circuit, but the luck was with me! I can take that into the next round, as I have a new-found motivation and can focus on winning. Now that I fought hard to get to this point, I will enjoy the next few days. I will learn from my mistakes and improve myself.”

Jesus Sicilia (ESP) Iberia group ELIMINATED
“It is difficult. I have tried so hard over the last couple of days and was sure I was going to do well after winning the national final. But it hurts, and I am very upset. I will not be a racing driver.”

David Herrera (ESP) Iberia group REMAINS
“I started the week at the bottom of my group. Iberia is a fast group. But every opportunity I have had, I have worked hard to try to be better. The Dogfight was a good example of this. Every time we have a challenge, I improve and work hard at it. The Dogfight was hard, but I have the momentum and won it, which proves I'm at the level of the Diogo and Hugo!”

Kevin Bartsch (FRA) ELIMINATED
“I made a small mistake on my first lap this morning in the Dogfight and I was out. I really regret it as I believed I could have been one of the top French competitors and even the one to go up against the other Europeans. But that is obviously not going to happen. Of course, I am very disappointed, but I remain positive about the future. My brother, Bastien, was here last year and did well. But both of us are now disappointed that we didn’t make it all the way in GT Academy.”

Pierre Lenoir (FRA) REMAINS
“I am tired. All the days are tiring. This morning was fantastic. We had the eliminations which we weren’t expecting at all. It was a little tough, I have to say. But this afternoon was even better with the GT-Rs. Now we have no idea what to expect. It is all a big surprise, but the challenges are becoming harder, but more and more interesting and I just hope to stay here for as long as possible.”

“I was disappointed as I thought that I was better than my adversary. However, a couple of times my instructor had braked. I don’t know why. I had thought I was in the top two of Benelux, so it was a surprise that I had to do the Dogfight. GT Academy has been a beautiful experience. To give someone the chance to have a career in motor sport from the world of PlayStation gaming is pretty incredible. It is just a shame that it is not me!”

Enrico Mele (NED) BENELUX group REMAINS
“Basically, I was in the bottom two of BENELUX so had to do the Dogfight this morning. It was tough being up against Sasha as we both really wanted it, but I won it. It was tight and waking up this morning I never expected I would have to earn my place in the next stage of the competition in the first race of the day. I will be in a good position for the rest of the week as I have already fought to stay in the competition. And I am willing to give it my all in order to win.”

Tim Coronel (NED) BENELUX Mentor
“Team BENELUX have some great drivers. I said at the beginning of the competition that they have some real talent and can become real racing drivers. We have that now. GT Academy is a very good programme for young drivers. My team mate in the Dutch GT Championship is Thomas Arends, who was in Race Camp last year. He is there as a driver, very quick. He could do with a bit more work on his fitness, but it shows what you can achieve in this competition.”