• Mar 3rd 2011 at 8:01AM
  • 16
Lucas Ordonez is a 25-year-old Spaniard who began competing in Nissan and Playstation's GT Academy when it first got started back in 2008. Of the initial 25,000 participants, Lucas weeded himself out as the quickest and was given the chance to take his skills from Gran Turismo to a real race track. Three years on, Lucas is preparing himself to take on a full LeMans Cup schedule in 2011.

Lucas' season begins in March, behind the wheel of a Signatech Nissan LMP2 machine at the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida. From there, it's on to the holy grail, the 24 Hours of LeMans, followed by five more LeMans Cup races across the globe.

There are likely to be more people like Lucas coming down the pike: the European GT Academy will start its fourth installment on March 4, and Nissan and Gran Turismo recently started the American version. More details can be found in the official release after the jump. Thanks to everyone for the tips!

[Source: Nissan]
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Lucas Ordoñez to contest the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for Signatech Nissan

Lucas Ordoñez, winner of the inaugural Nissan and PlayStation GT Academy competition in 2008, will demonstrate once again the success of the innovative gamer-to-racer competition when he lines up on the grid of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours this year. The 25-year-old Spaniard will contest the full Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in 2011 behind the wheel of a Nissan-powered LMP2 car for the Signatech Nissan team.

In 2008, Nissan teamed up with PlayStation to ask the question; can a super-fast gamer become a super-fast driver in the real world? In less than three years, Lucas has proved the answer to be a resounding 'yes', with his transformation from novice to professional racing driver exceeding the expectations of the motor sport fraternity. His extraordinary story will reach another climax on 11 and 12 June when he lines up to contest arguably the most famous race in the world, the Le Mans 24 Hours, the third round of the seven-race Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series.

Lucas was among the fastest of the 25,000 people that entered the first GT Academy competition on PlayStation's Gran Turismo game. He won a place to represent Spain at a five-day training camp at the UK's Silverstone circuit and emerged victorious. Between September and the end of 2008, Lucas embarked on an intensive driver training programme to qualify for an international racing licence. With the licence secured in record time, Lucas headed to Dubai in January 2009 and joined former Le Mans and Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert in the GT Academy Team, contesting the Dubai International 24 Hours in a Nissan 350Z.

After a strong showing in Dubai, Lucas was recruited to drive for Nissan in the 2009 European GT4 Cup alongside Briton Alex Buncombe. The pair finished an agonizingly close second in the drivers' championship but did manage to secure the teams' title for RJN Motorsport with some excellent performances that included a win and three second places.

Lucas was back in the European GT4 Cup in 2010 helping to develop the new Nissan 370Z GT4. He finished in fourth place in the series, despite missing one round to take up the offer of a one-off LM P2 drive at Silverstone in the Le Mans Series 1000km race.

Lucas's speed and dedication in his short racing career has earned him the respect of many within Nissan's marketing and racing operations. In February 2011, the Japanese manufacturer announced that it would return to the Le Mans 24 Hours and join the exciting Intercontinental Le Mans Cup through a partnership with Signature Racing that will see the NISMO-tuned VK45V8 engine equip its LMP2 cars in 2011 and 2012. Lucas was an automatic choice to join the squad, as Darren Cox, Nissan in Europe's Chief Marketing Manager Crossover and Sports Cars, explains: "When we started GT Academy in 2008, we knew that it would uncover new talent, but could not imagine that the Academy would develop into a driver development programme that provides a ladder to the world's greatest race. With Lucas, we have certainly proved the theory that a PlayStation gamer could transfer his skills to a real car on a real race track. His progress in just two full seasons of racing has been dramatic and is a testament to the reality of the Gran Turismo games and the knowledge and support that Nissan have been able to provide to the gamers that have come through the Academy.

"Nissan has a rich heritage in international motor sport and we are also a very innovative company. Therefore our return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with a driver we discovered three years ago through a PlayStation competition may be a surprise to some, but is normal for us."

For his part, Lucas is naturally thrilled to be given the opportunity to take to the legendary roads of Le Mans for the famous 24 Hour race. "It is beginning to sound a bit clichéd for me to keep talking about 'living my dream'," said the former MBA student. "However, the past three years have been amazing and now to have been given the opportunity by Nissan to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as all the other fantastic races in the Intercontinental Le Mans Series, is incredible. I recognise that this is a big challenge and a great honour and I can't wait to get started at Sebring later this month."

The Intercontinental Le Mans Series consists of seven races in 2011. Starting with the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida on 19 March, it includes a number of famous races such as the 1,000km of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, the Le Mans 24 Hours and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The series finale takes place in November in China.

Nissan and PlayStation's GT Academy competition continues to grow. In 2010, the second instalment, 1.2 million gamers from across Europe entered. A new GT Academy North America is now running and the third European competition will start on 4 March, with a six-week virtual time trial on the new Gran Turismo 5 game.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Everyone keeps commenting about how the couch and real life are different, about how he's not ready for the G-Forces, etc, so let me address all of you haters.

      First and foremost, you have to understand the racing line on the track. You have to understand where to brake and where to accelerate in order to get your lap times down, and make your car perform at it's absolute best. If they can find someone that has a good understanding of this, like our GT Academy winner, then everything else amounts to some training.

      In order to win that competition, the finalists actually had to go to a track and race actual cars in several races to find out who the winner was.

      This contest took place 3 years ago. What do you think he's been doing for the last three years? Playing Playstation?

      You do realize that you have to be a licensed racecar driver to compete in these type events, right?

      Do you think that a factory-backed Nissan LeMans team is going to just throw a guy into a million dollar car and "see what happens?"

      • 4 Years Ago
      Goodnfor him! This is really cool and helps legitimize the value of gaming.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That is so awesome, what I wouldn't give to have the time to play GT for hours on end in order to win this.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm so jealous. This makes me wish I hadn't forced myself to stop playing forza because it was a "waste of time".
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm really curious about how he'll fare. I think it'll really be interesting to see how a hyper real car simulator crack will fare in the real world of racing
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ya, 20 minutes of karting is tiring but hours on a track at tripple digit speeds is another matter entirely. I believe that was the issue when Top Gear magazine put a sim racer in a real car: he did really well on track but he was exhausted and threw up at least twice.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah - a video game cannot prepare you for the heat and muscle strain you'll experience in a race car. Fatigue is a bit more of an issue in a car vs on a couch.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You guys need to read the article. He's already proven he has the skills of a pro racing driver, participating in a number of races already and finishing most in 1-4 place. In additional, he raced in the Dubai 24hour event. And you think Nissan would really just drop this guy into the worlds most demanding race if they were not 100% confident he can compete? He did all this in less than 3 years; that alone is a major accomplishment that many racing drivers would be astonished by.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm sure this guy's not nothing on Greger Huttu
      • 4 Years Ago
      someone should tell him that theres a thing called g-force in real life.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm gonna tell you myself...

        your a jack ass.
      • 4 Years Ago
      He's fast, he proved it in GT4 Euro cup and other series already, this image of video game boy is sticking to him like glue but this guy is as quick or close to any other pro out there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yup, day late though Autoblog...should hire some more bloggers!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wish him the best.

      Let alone the controversy between virtual and reality. Not many people could actually get the opportunity to race. Many people has the skills to drive but don't have the money to get into motorsport(or , which then end up taking track days, playing Forza, GT or iRacing. Now he has been given everything he needs to race I'm sure he would do his best to make everyone one of us(whos been dying for getting into motorsport) jealous.
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