Psychology researchers at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Illinois have discovered a funny thing about podium finishers. Often, the happiest person on stage is the one with the bronze medal around his or her neck. Despite having missed first place by two spots, competitors on the lowest rung of the podium tend to find themselves deep in the throes of counterfactual thinking. They aren't focused on how close they were to winning an event; instead, the third-place competitors are thinking about just how close they came to missing the podium entirely.

That may help explain why Lucas Ordonez, Jordan Tresson, Bryan Heitkotter and Jann Mardenborough are so thrilled at the moment. The four drivers helped bring RJN Motorsport a third-place finish at the recent 24 Hours of Dubai. That's no small feat for any professional race team, which makes the win even more unbelievable. The four drivers aren't pros in the normal sense. Each driver started his career behind a controller as part of the Nissan Playstation GT Academy.

Heikotter and Mardenborough had less than a year to transform themselves from gamers to racers. The two won the most recent GT Academy competitions in the U.S. and Europe, respectively.


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  • 22 Comments
      barkeep
      • 2 Years Ago
      That is actually a very good achievement, especially placing 3rd in a 24 hour race. Kudos to these four gentlemen!
      Jason
      • 2 Years Ago
      Considering they had brake and electrical issues, very nicely done. The eventual class winner had very little issues, the the 2nd place Mustang was just plain fast. (Up to 3 seconds a lap faster at some points in the race)
      Carbon Fibre
      • 2 Years Ago
      Absolutely amazing. This proves the important foundations of Video Simulations. Glad for them, my PS3 YLOD a month before the GT academy started.
      jonnybimmer
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sure they didn't grab the higher positions that the post kinda leads us to believe, but 1. They still obviously have some driving talent, something that should expand with further experience and 2. It must still be an amazing feeling knowing that just a short while ago, the closest thing they could get to really racing was in front of a TV screen (or tracking some personal car, but at a much lower level) and now they just completed an endurance race for a fully sponsored team. Would I refer them as professional racers? No, but who's to say they won't get there in the future?
        Elmo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jonnybimmer
        The closest thing they could get to real racing was in front of a TV screen? You do realize that these guys have a huge background in motorsports, right?
      dytimmys
      • 2 Years Ago
      Now that is COOL.....
      phastbikes
      • 2 Years Ago
      AWESOME ! ! !
      gurusoldier
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great...now all the idiot gamers out there will want to try to be a race car driver on the highway causing even more accidents than usual. Gamers (regardless of age) who play a lot of racing type video games wind up bringing their piss poor gamer driver habits of line hugging, lane drifting, overly aggressive tail gating, last minute force your car into a space not big enough to safely pass while running everyone else off the road or have them slamming their brakes on so you can get one car ahead of them or make your off ramp at the last minute driving techniques that only increase road rage for everyone and making everyone else fear for their lives and dread their daily commutes. This is just the publicity we need to promote more idiots to buy more video games to learn how to drive rather than take a respectable driving school course and actually learn the rules of the road, driver safety and common road courtesies that are now long gone (and possibly extinct) thanks to parents with lousy driving habits passing it on to their kiddies when they attempt to teach them, and then compounded by video game antics and too much confidence in themselves the over glorified recycled beer can they are riding in which will invariably end up in a ditch, on its roof, smashed into a wall or median strip or under some tractor-trailer like mine which does not stop on a dime contrary to video game theory! Lots of luck to the future road kill!
        dklkse1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gurusoldier
        You don't know how to handle jealousy very well, do you?
        ejljr
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gurusoldier
        This is just the publicity we need for all guru's to post rants about young drivers driving on the road like they do on the video games. You are so negative that you should think of staying off the road yourself. People who complain the most are the one responsible for a lot of the road rage. Get a life! But stay of the road so you don't take a life!
        Jason
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gurusoldier
        Someone's having a bad Monday. Boohoo.
        jj72
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gurusoldier
        If you actually watched the show to select these drivers, you would know there was more than just playing video games. Jealous much?
        ThomasP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gurusoldier
        I get the feeling you want us off your lawn...
        Azazel
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gurusoldier
        "This is just the publicity we need to promote more idiots to buy more video games to learn how to drive rather than take a respectable driving school course " Gran Turismo taught me more about driving than driving school. In fact, i'd make Gran Turismo supplemental training for all young drivers.
      Georg
      • 2 Years Ago
      that headline is missleading completely they did NOT finished 3th place during the 24h at Dubai.. 24h off Dubai final standing overall 1. place Mercedes SLS GT3 (628laps) 2. place Mercedes SLS GT3 3. place Mercedes SLS GT3 the Nissan 370Z of the GT Academy guys finished 26th place overall (70cars started and some 50 finished) The 370Z started in the SP2 class (only 6cars in that class!!!!!!!!!! and 3 of the 6 run into technical troubles!) final ranking SP2 class 1. Renault Megane Trophy 550laps 2. Ford Mustag GT3 537laps 3. Nissan 370Z 532laps nice result but to be honest thats more a marketing gimick..all teams starting in the SP2 class are no were near the top teams and do not have to race drivers.. I like the idea of Opel (GM ) better the OPC race camp who started that race driver talent show some years ago (2007) with forming a team to race the 24h at the northloop in a highly competetive and huge number of competiters the 2l turbo class. Some of the guys already made the step to professionel race driving.
        Jason
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Georg
        There were actually 7 cars in the SP2 class. Now, had the GT Academy guys not run into brake and electrical issues that parked them a couple times for a large amount of time, just think where they would have finished. The lead Renault only had maybe 1 major problem, ditto with the Mustang. The two cars that finished 4th and 5th were much faster than the Nissan, including a Viper which later in the race ran a 2:06 lap time. On par with the top running cars, and 6 seconds faster than the fastest time run by the 370Z. No marketing gimmicks here, these guys EARNED that spot.
      jawnath1n
      • 2 Years Ago
      While these guys aren't 'pros' in the traditional sense, these guys aren't exactly amateurs either. Don't think they just put down the controller and stepped into a racing environment for the first time before getting into the GT Academy. These guys have extensive background in motor sports, just not in the pro scene. They are very very very good drivers. The GT Academy was just a method of discovering this talent.
        Martin
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jawnath1n
        Actually no, Heitkotter did a little stock auto-crossing but as far as I understand, all of them are straight gamers to racers. I believe GT even screens to make sure the participants have as little to no racing background as possible outside of GT, to make sure the results are pure to prove the product. Granted, it's not like these guys are using the Playstation Controller! All of them came from wheels.
          Bill Strong
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Martin
          BryanH is one off my long time Moderators on my auto message board and was a National Champion autoX'er. So he had a bit of experience, but there is a big difference between a large cone filled parking lot and a world class endurance road race.
      Rus
      • 2 Years Ago
      it was mercedes based on their site: http://live.24hseries.com/
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