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We've all dreamed it, but Lucas Ordoñez gets to live it. As the winner of the Nissan/Playstation GT Academy contest, in which Gran Turismo gamers competed to win a slot as a pilot in the European GT racing championship, Ordoñez spent the latter half of 2008 training under Johnny Herbert in preparation for this year's season.

At his first outing in the GT4 series at Silverstone this past weekend, the GT Academy team started in 11th place, moved to 6th, 4th and then 1st before the safety car was called out, the 350Z came into the pits and Ordoñez took the helm. With time running out, Ordoñez began his battle for the podium and after a crash on the final lap, our Playstation protagonist seized the opportunity to land a third-place finish – far better than the top-six result the crew's captain set for the team. Ordoñez and the GT team are due to run in Italy next weekend, followed by four more races this year.

PRESS RELEASE

PODIUM JOY FOR THE WORLD'S FIRST EVER VIRTUAL TO REAL LIFE RACING DRIVER

First GT4 European Championship weekend ends with a place on the podium for the winner of the GT Academy, Lucas Ordoñez

Racing success continues for the world's first virtual to real life racing driver Lucas Ordoñez, winner of the Nissan/PlayStation® GT Academy 2008. Following an intensive training schedule last year, where Lucas was coached by established drivers such as Johnny Herbert, his first foray into European GT racing has proven to be yet another positive step for the young gamer turned racer.

Last weekend Lucas yet again held his own on a track of seasoned competitors as he partnered experienced driver Alex Buncombe in the first race of the competitive European GT4 series. Recording two strong results, Lucas and the Nissan PlayStation team enjoyed an exciting weekend at Silverstone that provided the perfect next step for Lucas into the world of real Gran Turismo racing.

Race one saw a storming drive by Lucas and Alex from 11th on the grid to 6th position but it was race two that delivered a memorable result for the drivers. Buncombe displayed a textbook start from 4th on the grid and was leading by the end of the first lap. The advantage was lost due to the intervention of a safety car and a cautious pit stop and it was left to Ordoñez to rejoin the track and battle it out for 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. A titanic scrap raged throughout the rest of the race but Ordoñez seized his chance and in the last few corners made his move to take an unexpected but well deserved podium.

Lucas said: "I was really pushing hard on the last corners, trying to overtake the BMW. I could tell that he was losing grip on his rear tyres and I managed to overtake him on the last corner. I'm really happy that we came third in my first race weekend in GT4, it's great for me. We'll try to continue to improve in Italy in two weeks time. Alex showed that the Nissan can lead races and I need to help convert those chances."

Team boss of Nissan Playstation, Bob Neville added: "Last year the Nissan Z and Alex Buncombe won more races in European GT4 than anyone else, but the podium today feels like more of an achievement. We have seen Lucas grow in such a short space to deliver this exciting drive today."

Mark Bowles, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe added: "The creator of the Gran Turismo series of games, Kazunori Yamauchi was at Silverstone to witness this important chapter in our commitment to take a Gran Turismo gamer and turn him into a real life racing driver – he and I can't wait for the next instalment."

Darren Cox, Nissan Europe said: "I set Lucas, Alex and the team a objective of a top six result, they have overachieved against strong opposition from Aston Martin and BMW. Lucas must not let this result go to his head and focus on consistent results over the next five race weekends across Europe."

Launched in May 2008, GT Academy is an international driving competition from Nissan and PlayStation®, which invited gaming fans from across Europe to put their virtual driving skills to the test and win the chance to compete in the real life racing world. Ordoñez was the first winner of GT Academy which proved to be a resounding success – all that remains now is to see just how far the success continues.


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  • 20 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Next up for Lucas, become a guitar hero and then answer the call of duty.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I know.
        • 6 Years Ago
        LOL lets hope he doesn't get to good at Grand theft Auto 4

        Playing video games does improve reflexes and Gran Turismo does teach you about hitting the apexes.of turns etc.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Some games even require you to think, to really use your brain power.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Some games even require you to think, to really use your brain power."
        That leaves you out, SeaUrchin.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Hey Urchin, maybe you should play more of those games...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Training by Johnny Herbert is awsome
      • 6 Years Ago
      The guy obviously used a racing wheel to play the game - simply using a controller won't help you.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Met Lucas and the other guy who won at one of the final meetings at Castle Combe last year, nice chap he is and good to see him going well :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Another great simulator, albeit more twitchy, is GRID.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I can't wait to watch this train, i mean car, wreck!
        • 6 Years Ago
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why the negativity? It is because it didn't happen to you but it very well could have? I hope he succeeds and goes on to great things. That would make a good story that every 'layman' could relate to.
        • 6 Years Ago
        LOL, rarely happens, but you keep dreaming. Ill be back after the crash. Im sure all the pro drivers hope every gamer out there can become a race car driver... They will be out to get him. Also, half of your posts are bashing someone elses comments and PLENTY of negativity. Practice what you preach, hypocrite.
      JDM Life
      • 6 Years Ago
      Gran Turismo FTW !


      Before i started to drive, i played it all the time. When i finally got into a car for the first time , i drove as if I have been driving for years....while all my friends seemed to struggle.

        • 6 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        Yep, its true. Sim racers (with a wheel) are a huge asset, don't let the naysayers like MajorGeek tell you otherwise, Ordoñez' results and the majority of drivers who use simulators to learn tracks and improve times (this includes EVERY F1 driver), don't lie.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        There is no doubt that is if you are rocking a Playseat, a G25 and GT4 or GT5 you will improve your skills and instincts.

        The calibration is dead on you are definitely a better driver if you are setup this way.

        If you are just using a controller....forget about it. The wheel, pedals and chassis make all of the difference.

      • 6 Years Ago
      I have to assume flight simulators are useful, or pilots wouldn't train on simulators before strapping into multi-million-dollar aircraft.

      There really does come a point when a simulator can teach you many details about the real experience.

      Driving sims are getting advanced enough so that the (future) driver can have a track memorized. That will definitely come in handy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is really pretty cool. Good luck to him.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Either way, GT has made not only driving but playing other racing games much easier.

      Why would this be shocking when many drivers in F1, Sportscar, Indy Car and even NASCAR play SIM racing games to familiarize themselves with unknown tracks.

      Wirith Engineering the people behind the Acura LMP program has a simulator what's basically a "Video Game" and according to David Brabham is "Scary Accurate", within a few tenths of his actual lap times at Long Beach...

      What games don't feeback is the "pucker" factor. Being able to fly through turn one at Sebring without lifting type of bravery only few have.

      But it shouldn't surprise anybody that understanding car setup and knowing how the track flows before hand goes a long way into helping you be fast in "real time" or "virtual time" its almost.




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