WINNERS FROM EUROPE, USA, GERMANY AND RUSSIA TO TEAM UP IN TWO NISSAN 370Z NISMO RACE CARS
03 January 2012 – Nissan and PlayStation® will demonstrate the growth in scale and stature of its innovative GT Academy virtual-to-real-racer competition in January. 2012’s GT Academy Champions from Europe, USA, Germany and Russia will line up on the grid at the prestigious Dubai 24 Hour race (10-12 January, 2013) in two 370Z Nismo GT4 Race cars and in doing so they complete their transition from PlayStation’s class-leading Gran Turismo®5 game to Nissan’s Endurance Race Team in just four months.
Wolfgang Reip (2012 European winner from Belgium) and Mark Shulzhitskiy (2012 Russian winner) will be in the first of the two 370Z Nissans together with their more experienced team mates, inaugural winner of GT Academy Spaniard Lucas Ordoñez and Nissan Signatech team LMP2 Russian driver Roman Rusinov. Both are 24-hour experts and have recorded impressive results at the famous Le Mans 24 Hours – Ordoñez was second in the LMP2 class in 2011 and Rusinov fourth in 2012.
The second 370Z Nismo in GT Academy colours will be driven by Peter Pyzera (2012 German winner) and Steve Doherty (2012 US winner). Their experienced team mates for this prestigious race will be ‘Queen of the Nürburgring’ Sabine Schmitz, a GT Academy judge and mentor for the past three years, along with British driver Alex Buncombe, the experienced Nissan team driver who has been team mate to all three previous winners of GT Academy in their debut racing years.
The 26-year-old ‘Wolfie’ Reip was one of 830,000 GT5TM gamers who entered the 2012 European GT Academy competition and emerged victorious after the gruelling Race Camp at Silverstone Circuit in August. Since being crowned champion, Wolfgang and fellow winners Mark, Peter and Steve have embarked on the GT Academy’s most innovative and comprehensive Driver Development Programme to date. Incorporating every conceivable element of a racing driver’s complexion, the recruits were given regular driver coaching, karting, fitness and nutrition programmes, and sports psychology and simulator sessions. In addition, all four winners completed a number of races in the UK in order to quality for an international race licence, to prepare them to take centre stage in Dubai driving a GT4-specification Nissan 370Z Nismo.
As Darren Cox, Director, Nissan Global Motorsports, explains: “Each year we have developed and refined the Driver Development Programme for our GT Academy winners and I firmly believe that it is now the best programme in the world. We are absolutely confident that these guys will line up in Dubai better prepared than many of their more experienced adversaries who have taken a more traditional route into motor sport. Lucas, Jordan Tresson and Jann Mardenborough, our previous GT Academy Europe winners, have demonstrated that we are producing great drivers with bright futures. This new crop of four drivers is no exception, and I am looking forward to watching them perform in Dubai in a pair of Nissan 370Zs.”
Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital, echoed this sentiment: “Each time a new winner has embarked on their Dubai 24 hour challenge it has been a proud and exciting moment for everyone involved with GT Academy. The driver line-up for 2013 combines raw talent from this year’s GT Academy with the experience of Lucas Ordoñez and three other professional team mates, who will be there to support the graduates and also witness the success of the programme in action. The previous year’s GT Academy winners surprised many people from the motorsport world in achieving a fantastic podium position at Dubai 2012 and we will be aiming to provide a few more surprises this year, too.”
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About the Gran Turismo® Franchise
With more than 60 million units shipped worldwide, the award-winning Gran Turismo® franchise for the PlayStation® , PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 and PSP (PlayStation® Portable) is regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulator ever created due to its true-to-life graphics, authentic physics technology and design. Since the inception of the Gran Turismo franchise, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital Inc. in Japan have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the most realistic driving simulation in the industry and a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products.
Gran Turismo®5 was released on 24 November, 2010 and sold 5.5 million units worldwide in its first two weeks on sale. The ninth instalment of the world’s best-selling racing franchise features a completely new physics engine for an improved feel for steering during turns and drifts, delivering a more intuitive driving experience than ever before. The game also features an impressive line-up of more than 1,000 licensed cars from the world’s top manufacturers. Other innovative features include stereoscopic 3D support, real-time car damage, dynamic weather effects and a deep online and community feature set where players can race online with up to 16 competitors through PlayStation®Network. With the widest scope and depth of gameplay options in the Gran Turismo series, Gran Turismo 5 offers users an entertainment experience that is only possible on PS3.
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About Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), based in London, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and sales of PlayStation®3, PlayStation®2, PSPTM (PlayStation®Portable) and PlayStation®Network software and hardware in 99 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania. SCEE also develops, publishes, markets and distributes entertainment software for these formats, and manages the third party licensing programs for the formats in these territories. Since the launch of PlayStation 3 in November 2006, 55.5 million units have been sold globally and continue to be sold at a record level. Maintaining its position as one of the most successful consumer electronic products in history, PlayStation 2 has sold over 153.6 million systems worldwide. Since its launch at the end of 2004, over 73 million PSPs have been sold globally, highlighting the importance of the portable entertainment market. With the huge increase in interest and accessibility of network applications and network gaming, more than 90 million accounts have registered to PlayStation Network, the free-to-access interactive environment, and over 1.91 billion items have been downloaded.
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About Nissan in Europe
Nissan has one of the most comprehensive European presences of any overseas manufacturer, employing more than 12,500 staff across locally-based design, research & development, manufacturing, logistics and sales & marketing operations. Last year Nissan plants in the UK, Spain and Russia produced more than 528,000 vehicles including mini-MPVs, award-winning crossovers, SUVs and commercial vehicles. Nissan now offers 24 diverse and innovative products for sale in Europe today, and is positioned to become the number one Japanese brand in Europe.
About the Nissan 370Z
Nissan’s 370Z continues the bloodline of previous Zs by offering an authentic rear-wheel drive sports car experience, with enhanced performance and handling thanks to its more compact dimensions and attention to weight-saving.
In the first full redesign of the iconic Nissan Z since its re-introduction in 2003, the 370Z now sports a shorter wheelbase, greater use of lightweight body materials, a new engine with more horsepower and a new 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, as well as the world’s first synchronized down/up shift rev control system for the manual transmission.
But to get the full measure of the new model, now designated the Nissan 370Z, one need look no farther than the purposeful, athletic design which retains the Z’s basic DNA, but adds a purposeful muscularity. The new 370Z remains true to the Z’s original philosophy, offering accessible performance, true sportscar handling and athletic, agile design.
Text and photograph by: Nissan.