GT Academy 2013: UK National Final Review

gta2013_UKfinalSilverstone once again played host to the final stage of the UK GT Academy national competition yesterday – and provided exactly the level of competition we’ve come to expect from it.

In the month that the GT Academy qualifier was open, more than three quarters of a million Europeans set a time and a fifth of those participants were British, making the UK competition probably the fiercest in the world. Assembled at the home of British motorsport were the top 16 of those British gamers and eight additional wildcard entries, some of whom ranked in the top 30 themselves anyway.

gta2013_gamepods0001The first day for the 24 competitors consisted of a series of Gran Turismo challenges. Running a variety of Nissans, the finalists faced off over three hotlap challenges to pare the field down to eighteen to contest day 2.

With the top six safely through to an “A-Final” online race and guaranteed a top six finish in the Gran Turismo discipline, the remaining twelve faced a repechage-style race-off – a hotlap of Grand Valley Speedway in a racing hard-shod Nissan R35 TC – with the top six times qualifying for the rest of the day’s challenges and a “B-Final” to determine their finishing position. Taking top honours and maximum points in the A-Final was Adam Suswillo.

gta2013_final120001Now down to twelve, the gaming was over and the finalists were left with a test of their driving skills, a punishing fitness assessment and the infamous trial by media.

Silverstone’s car park 49 was once again the venue of the driving skills test, where an autocross course had been laid out as with the previous three competitions. With the last two years’ test cars being the Nissan GT-R and a rather sprightly semi-race prepped Nissan 370Z with all the driver aid fuses pulled, there was a light buzz of anticipation to see which weapon had been picked – and consternation when it was revealed as a Juke Nismo…

gta2103_autotest0002Still, the 200hp Juke isn’t to be taken lightly and really stretched the contestants, dealing with poor corner visibility, understeer, wheelspin, weight transfer and a noncompliant 1.6 turbo engine when dropped off boost. With a second penalty for each cone clipped, it proved a real dividing line as some of the more experienced drivers were able to set competitive times in this unusual vehicle.

With two days of gaming, stress and driving under their belt, it was the perfect time to put them through the fitness challenge – a five minute “plank” followed by timed press-ups and then, once they were truly exhausted, the bleep test. Last man standing was John Foster, who made it right the way up to level 12 – down to a 5s interval – above the minimum standard required by the Royal Marines!

Facing up to the combined might of the press, all the contestants acquitted themselves well and this lead to a nervous wait for the results to be announced.

Top scorer on the day was Adam Suswillo, closely followed by Shane Ward, Mark Ridout, Martin Hefferon and John Foster. The sixth finalist – outscoring unlucky seventh place man Shane Green by 0.5pt overall – was Neil Williams who, despite being 28, has only held a driving licence since the start of this month!

Ridout, Ward, Foster, Hefferon, Suswillo, Williams & Mardenborough
Ridout, Ward, Foster, Hefferon, Suswillo, Williams & Mardenborough

All six now face an anxious month ahead of September’s race camp where, like last year, they’ll be tested head-to-head until one remains to represent the UK against a single gamer from each other territory in the European final.

GTPlanet wishes them all the very best of luck – not least because all six are GTPlanet members!

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Comments (25)

  1. BanditKarter22

    Neil Williams – Wild Card
    John Foster – BanditKarter-22
    Mark Ridout – markyboy92
    Martin Hefferon – GTP_Tidgney
    Adam Suswillo – GT_ADAM
    Shane Ward – GT5_Shane_UK

    1. another_jakhole

      That’s just AWESOME. And a driving license only since the start of this month? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!!!! I personally would hate not being able to drive for that long.

    2. Neilson248

      lol… I’ve known how to drive since I was 13 and when i was 16, just 1 week before I was due to go for my license test (I’m originally from Zimbabwe where the minimum driving age is 16) someone t-boned me at about 80mph, wrote off my car and still had enough residual speed to hit 2 lamp posts and a pedestrian! For a long time after that, you could say that I had a phobia of driving on public roads and that put me off until now. I wanted to enter this competition and I managed to do it right at the last minute. First time driving on Birmingham roads and i only had 1 minor, nearly a clean sheet!

    3. ShaneUK

      Huge respect for you getting back into the car Neil. I thought my record of not actually driving for a year and a half was impressive, but when you told me you had only just passed your driving test I thought, respect! Haha! Good luck in your training!

    4. Neilson248

      Thanks Shane… I think when people hear that I have only just passed that means that I have only just learnt lol. All the best to you too

    5. VspecZR1GT2RS89

      Good work out there guys. Go GTPlanet!! Wonder what’s next down the road for you guys, but I cMt wait to hear it.

      And I have major respect for you Neil for getting back out there and behind the wheel again and getting your license and kicking those challenges also!!!

      I have driven a car for awhile and since our car is gone, we have rented a few cars a month and I’m good, but I need to get back out there. But I’m impressed. Good luck Neil and everyone else! :D

    1. Famine

      Spurgy and Ghostdriver made the final 12 (back row 4th from left; front row far left), Banditkarter made the final 6 (third from left).

    1. Famine

      That’s the BRDC clubhouse – which is the focal point of the activities in both the UK final and the Race Camp. It’s only a couple of years old, I recall, so new enough!

    1. JTB10000

      But that doesn’t stop it from possibly being included; plus, the Juke is a pretty cool car…van thingy.

    2. Swagger897

      I remember the first commercial of the juke where it promoted the three drive modes – Eco, sport, (hybrid no?) the driver was doing j-turns and racing through crowded New York almost to deliver doughnuts…. After that the “so easy a cave man can do it” commercial came on….

      But seriously, I find all cross-overs to be relatively fun to drive fast in reality… I know a ford edge isn’t much but I have driven the Audi SQ or QS 5 and 7 at the Audi Expeirence at Road Atlanta. Really fun, really fast especially on the long downhill and then right to left uphill sector. But I think the Juke is a bit more light weight than any of the Q models so it should’ve been easy to hold…

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