British GT Championship Series Will Not Allow Sony-Nissan GT Academy Drivers to Compete Because They’re Too Fast
The very idea of a racecar driver being too fast to compete in a race seems absolutely absurd, as fast is exactly what racecar drivers are supposed to be, but a recent group of drivers in England are having a problem due to their incredible speed. Graduates of the Sony-Nissan Gran Turismo Academy, which trains drivers using the incredible advanced Gran Turismo driving simulator and puts them behind the wheel of amazing Nissan vehicles like the GT-R, are no longer allowed in the British GT Championship.
The Pro-Am Class, where GT Academy Drivers are being placed alongside Nissan’s own professional drivers in two-man teams, is meant to be a class for “gentleman drivers”, according to the British GT governing body. Last year, however, the first entrant of the GT Academy Alumnus, Jann Mardenborough, nearly won the class outright. When teamed up with Nissan race driver Alex Buncombe the duo took the series by storm, and the GT officials were forced to saddle time penalties to the amateur Mardenborough, as the times he was posting were much nearer the pros than they were the amateurs.
This disparity in skill, between those GT Academy racers and the actual amateurs–even though the GT Academy drivers themselves had logged no real track time–has lead the British GT governance to ban all GT Academy drivers from the amateur competition. This year was supposed to see four different drivers competing in that field, but, they’ll have to find race work elsewhere. In a statement released to the publication GT Planet, British GT series manager Benjamin Franassovici said:
“[GT Academy] has shown itself to be a great way to source raw talent and turn that into real racing talent as we saw in British GT last year with Jann Mardenborough. However Nissan’s ability to find such amazing raw talent means that we cannot accept their full season entry for British GT in 2013. Their new recruits have very little racing experience so they have to be on the lowest performance grade. Their talent, going on Jann’s speed last year, doesn’t reflect this lack of experience so it is not fair to put them up against our Pro/Gentleman grid, the basis of British GT3.”
While their primary series of races has been lost, Nissan has still worked hard to line up races for their GT Academy graduates. The official 2013 schedule for GT Academy drivers will be announced at Nissan’s Nismo Performance headquarters in Yokohama, Japan on February 26. GT Academy drivers may still receive an invitation or two to specific British GT events, as well.
All of this is huge news for the video game industry, as it clearly bucks the old adage surrounding games like Gran Turismo and its competition Forza, where the belief was that while they were fun simulations they did not actually teach people to drive, and, while the average driver certainly won’t become Michael Schumacher by playing lots of video games, it clearly does provide a skill basis upon which competitive driving may be built. Of course, the expensive and detailed gaming rigs–featuring the finest technology and feedback simulators money can buy–also helps a great deal. The benefit alone of playing with a full 3-pedal, 6-speed, steering wheel get up in an upright racing seat is lightyears ahead of dicking around with a sixaxxis controller while sunken in to one’s sofa.
All of this also speaks to the capabilities of the Nissan GT-R. The vehicle’s incredible AWD handling does exactly what simulation drivers expect it to do, and is consistent enough that those who have honed their skills virtually can compete behind its wheels. In the British GT series it was certainly up against incredible competition, also. The race series is populated with the world’s more expensive supercars, and this is just another feather for the GT-R hat.