Gaëtan Paletou Wins 2014 GT Academy Final

August 7th, 2014 by Andrew Evans


France’s Gaëtan Paletou has been named 2014 Nismo GT Academy Europe champion following a thrilling week long Race Camp event at Silverstone in the UK.

With the media days comprising the last two days of the event, only three of the competitors remained for each region following earlier eliminations and more whittling was to occur that same day. To add to the competitors’ stress, Gran Turismo series creator Kazunori Yamauchi was now in attendance, watching their every move, along with Nismo Athlete and legendary Olympian Sir Chris Hoy who was fitting in some simulator training ahead of a British GT race.

2014_GTAcademy_RaceCamp_overtakingThe morning’s activity for the hopefuls was an overtaking challenge set at the Silverstone Stowe Circuit. In true Gran Turismo 6 style, the contestants started at the back of a chain of cars and had three laps to overtake as many as they could in the Knight Rider Nissan GT-R – with some Ferrari and Aston Martin models drafted in to increase the drone fleet. UK finalist Alex Porazinski’s run even included some wheel to wheel contact with one of the Astons!

With the leading racer in each region guaranteeing their safety, the remaining two had to head into a dogfight face-off – three laps of Stowe in Nismo 370Zs, starting at opposite sides of the track – with the loser in the best-of-three eliminated. When the dust and drizzle settled, the following drivers saw their participation end:

  • BeNeLux – Paul Broekmeulen (Netherlands)2014_GTAcademy_RaceCamp_dogfight
  • France – Maxime Batifoulier
  • UK – Alex Porazinski
  • Italy – Luca Guerra
  • Russia – Taras Shatov
  • Swe/Po/Czech – Kimmy Larsson (Sweden)
  • Iberia – Rafael Tourón (Spain)

Following some late night birthday celebrations for Kazunori Yamauchi, the final day swept in with the last two in each group facing their own worst enemy – themselves. The last test is a second benchmark that compares the driver to their own times earlier in the week to see how much they have improved due to the driver tuition and training they have received.

With the judges looking for a talent more receptive to the driver development program that lays ahead of the winner, the final seven eliminated drivers were:

  • BeNeLux – Laurens Beerten (Belgium)
  • France – Loic Lanoe
  • UK – Luke Wilkins
  • Italy – Ariel Bernardi
  • Russia – Andrei Trofimov
  • Swe/Po/Czech – Alexander Haegermark (Sweden)
  • Iberia – Carlos Martínez Alonso (Spain)

This left as regional champions Cédric Wauters (Belgium), Gaëtan Paletou (France), Filipe “Pipo” Rodrigues (Portugal), Riccardo Massa (Italy), Dmitry Lebedev (Russia), Kamil Franczak (Poland) and Karl Chard (UK).

Heading into the final race, the original qualifying positions had been determined by the results of the buggy race on day 6, but a little bit of fate intervened. Two of the Nismo 370Zs developed faults – because race car – that prevented their occupants from racing them and a new qualification session was required to pick the final five drivers. This led to the elimination of Dmitry and Kamil from the grid, while the new start order had Cédric on pole position from Riccardo, then Gaëtan, Karl and Pipo in 5th.

2014_GTAcademy_RaceCamp_racestartFor the first time in the Academy’s history, the race was effectively decided by an absolutely colossal accident – in the first corner no less. Pipo made a brilliant start to sweep up the inside of pole sitter Cédric, while Riccardo managed to surprise him round the outside at the same time. Running into Abbey three abreast was never going to go well and the three cars ground together, with Riccardo being spat out into the gravel on the outside missing a wheel, Cédric being hurled to the back of the pack and Pipo having to retire the car back to the pits.

2014_GTAcademy_RaceCamp_qualifyingFurther disaster struck 2nd place man Karl Chard, as his clutch packed in at half distance, allowing Cédric past to move up a spot as he lost drive onto the main straight and also had to bring the car back into the pits. Gaëtan, however was never really troubled at the front and, having avoided the first corner calamity, controlled his lead from first Karl and then Cédric until the end of the race.

While Race Control gave the Italian and Portuguese competitors a stern talking to and, like his namesake Felipe, unlucky Riccardo Massa having to shoulder the largest part of the fault for the crash, the judges and mentors discussed the drivers’ relative cases for the title and, in an unusually short decision, head judge Johnny Herbert announced 22 year old Frenchman Gaëtan Paletou as the newest GT Academy champion.

With the German race camp already decided in secret (due to television contracts) last month, Gaëtan is the second GT Academy champion of the season. The International event begins tomorrow and we’ll be on hand for the final day, with the US race camp naming the fourth and final champion later in the month.

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  1. Aug. 10, 8:34am

    I don’t know, isn’t he too old? … but as fill-in for endurance races he will be good.

  2. Aug. 8, 5:30pm

    Congratulations Gaetan, and good luck with your career. Does anyone happen to know which of these finalists are GTP members and/or their PSN/GTP names?

  3. Aug. 7, 12:46pm

    I like how Gaetan is on top of the world and the other guys are just like, “fml.” :D

    ‘Gratz Gaetan, well done!

  4. Aug. 7, 12:45pm

    First congrats to the winner and runner ups. This is not an easy task.

    Quoting from the article:
    “In true Gran Turismo 6 style, the contestants started at the back of a chain of cars and had three laps to overtake as many as they could in the Knight Rider Nissan GT-R – with some Ferrari and Aston Martin models drafted in to increase the drone fleet.”

    How do we get Race configured Astons and Ferrari cars? Hell, we don’t even have the pictured Type-R 370Z cars shown at the bottom. PD, stop with the BS………PLEASE.
    And start making some new real world racing and production model cars for GT6/7.
    And because they cost real world dollars, please make GT6 cars transferable to GT7.

    • Aug. 7, 5:36pm

      The Astons and Ferraris were road cars – though none were a model used in GT6.

  5. Aug. 7, 12:21pm
    Tenacious D

    I wish Gaëtan and all the Academy winners good fortune and the best of luck in their racing careers, and there’s a certain amount of luck involved.

    • Aug. 7, 12:47pm


  6. Aug. 7, 10:25am

    Dani Clos (F1 driver from the spanish team) has just published a bunch of photos on his Facebook account:

  7. Aug. 7, 10:08am

    I’m actually not surprised that nothing is getting done when Kaz isn’t even at HQ telling people what to do. It’s probably a full-time party at PD.

    • Aug. 7, 11:25am

      Wasn’t there an update on Tuesday night while Kazunori was asleep in our hotel? I’d swear there was.

    • Aug. 7, 12:08pm
      Tenacious D

      Would you please PM me that PD Cam addy you’re watching? I gotta see this! ;D

    • Aug. 7, 6:19pm

      @Famine update of what? didn’t even notice.

    • Aug. 8, 6:18am

      Update 1.11.

      This makes me wonder how Thanks_Eh will get on in GT Academy North America.

    • Aug. 8, 5:03pm

      I’d call it Update_0.00001.11

      Nothing important updated or fixed.

  8. Aug. 7, 9:49am
    GT5 Level 41

    Who’s that standing second from the left? Doesn’t he have some overdue projects back at the office to get to?

  9. Aug. 7, 9:42am

    Cedric should have been the winner honestly. He was by far the fastest in quali and managed to work his way back from the turn 1 incident to fight Gaetan for the lead, so he was clearly the better driver – just really unlucky with that first turn.

  10. Aug. 7, 8:21am

    That guy in the yellow looks pissed. If looks could kill…

    • Aug. 7, 8:28am

      I can understand why! That’s Pipo – made a brilliant start to the race and had a very early end to it…

    • Aug. 7, 8:43am

      If they need to have only one race at the end to determine the winner, wouldn’t that mean that they all could be capable to make it as professional drivers? Having one bad corner in a final race putting an end to their chance to become a Nismo driver seems a bit harsh. Do the powers-that-be take the losers off to the side when the cameras are turned off and tell them that they have talent and that they will also be given a shot?

    • Aug. 7, 8:48am

      The final race doesn’t determine the winner by default – but it’s often the case that the final race winner is also the GT Academy winner because it’ll be someone who has improved over the week and ended strongly.

      And yes, it’s harsh that someone can make one mistake and it’s all over – but that’s motorsport for you.

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