From racing games to the real thing


No doubt most of you will have used a PlayStation or something similar before. Whatsmore, because you’re on Motor Sport’s website, I would be so bold as to say that you’ve tried your hand at a racing game.

However realistic these things may claim to be, though, I’d be hard-pushed to admit that any of my 200mph, computer-generated tank slapping has benefited my real life racing. Braking so late that you pass all the other cars on the grid as if they were standing still, sailing clean past the corner and into the Armco at leg-breaking speed matters little in a computer game. You just hit the ‘Pause’ button and then ‘Restart’.

Of course, explaining that approach to your fellow racers on a real track will probably end in you being locked away in a remote marshalling post so as not to endanger anyone.

In June of last year, however, PlayStation and Nissan united to form the GT Academy. There would be a worldwide PlayStation qualification process and 20 winners from each country would make the final. From there, a select few would then be put through ‘boot camp’ and two winners would emerge. The prize? A new PlayStation 3, perhaps? No, no – a PlayStation-Nissan sponsored entry into the Dubai 24 Hours race this month, along with all the necessary race training up to that. Blimey.

In September last year it was announced that 28-year old Lars Schlömer (a taxi driver from Bonn) and 23-year old Lucas Ordoñez (an MBA student) had been selected by the panel of judges, including Johnny Herbert who will share the car with the winners in Dubai, for the prize. The training began and the pair set about gaining their MSA International licences.

As part of the publicity for the GT Academy, Motor Sport was invited to try its hand at a PlayStation tournament to mark the occasion of the 24-day countdown to the 24-hour race at Dubai.

Sadly I was called away on other duties, but Dylan Miles from the ads team went along to hold court against the likes of FHM and The Sun. ‘Team Miles Motor Sport’ started well with the fastest lap in the first race, but once PR organisers Hill and Knowlton supplied the racers with free drinks our team’s performance slipped. Reactions slowed and lap times dropped. Still, despite being beaten by a bunch of non-motor racing dailies (sorry Dylan), Mr Miles returned to the office beaming thanks to a free Go-Karting race suit and a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

So far Lars and Lucas haven’t been setting the world alight with their speed as they gain the necessary licence signatures, but with PlayStation and Nissan backing the 350Z they’re driving in Dubai it will no doubt be blisteringly fast. I’d keep a close eye on them and, if you’re particularly fast in Gran Turismo, I’d get some late night practice laps in. You never know where they might take you.

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