GT Academy – Boot Camp (Media Day)

February 26th, 2010 by Andrew Evans

Well, as a last minute replacement and completely-baffled newbie amongst serious publications’ reporters (I count the Daily Star, Ireland Daily Star, Times, Mail, AutoWeek and the BBC, amongst others), I’m here at the GT Academy Boot Camp Media Day…

The day kicked off at Whittlebury Hall with a press conference for the 18 lucky (okay, skilled) drivers – the Belgian winner Stijn Wackenier having fallen ill at the last minute and replaced by Benjamin Peron – with media in attendance. The GT Academy judges present at this initial conference were Rob Barff, Johnny Herbert and Sabine Schmitz (yes, really). The concept of GT Academy, for those of us unaware of it – to take a driver from the virtual world and put him in a race car in the real world – was explained by Johnny before a short video from the 4th judge, none other than Eddie Jordan, and another short video from GT Academy winner Lucas Ordoñez.

The format was explained by Johnny – eviction-style boot camp fun, whittling the field down to just 3 drivers over 5 days, who would then receive 2 months of intensive training before the final prize is given – a seat in a Nissan 370Z GT4 class racer!

Rob explained the day’s activities before springing a surprise 10 minute written test on the drivers, after which the throng relocated to Silverstone.

At this point the GT Academy finalists were given a number of warm-up laps in a number of Nissan 370Zs on Silverstone’s Stowe Circuit, with an on-board instructor, before going for an individual “superpole lap” – the results of which are yet to be revealed (though I can probably assume who finished 18th, given that only one driver took a trip across the grass on his timed lap, identity to be protected so long as the money keeps coming in)… Then back to the Experience Centre for the ever-so-vital medical and fitness tests.

A brief break for lunch preceded the “media” being split into two groups and thrown into the same 370Zs the finalists drove – one guided lap, followed by a number of instructed laps – and then onto a head-to-head autocross course in Nissan’s R35 GT-Rs. As is typical, I was last to go and with no-one to go head-to-head with, who should step in but GT Academy champion Lucas Ordoñez! With a time of 37.93s on the final run, GTPlanet’s credentials were established as fastest publication (oh yes, you read that right).

From Silverstone the party relocated to Milton Keynes’ Daytona karting track, where the media and finalists raced head-to-head (Lucas Ordoñez guesting in Media kart 15) for 2 hours of endurance racing. I bravely skipped this, having aggravated a hand injury by misbehaving in the 370Z earlier in the day). The eventual race winners were Team Portgual/France (Filipe Barreto/Hunter_4_6 and Jordan Tresson/GT_driver_BMW) on a sterling 106 laps, 4 laps ahead of the Spanish pairing of Marco Calvo and Roberto Otero (MakaayX and GTro_rootbe), with Team BeNe (Benjamin Peron – I’m unaware of your PSNID at present – and Jeroen Kesselring/Oenta).

As the lovely, cold, February weather bit in, drivers and journalists alike returned to Whittlebury Hall for an hour’s evening meal, followed by a press conference, during which the drivers were subjected to a barrage of questions to determine their presence under fire… Each driver was requested to complete one question in English – to the best of their ability (it being a test of personality rather than language skill) – and one in their own language, some of which were so intriguing in half-translation that they had to be asked again in English. The questions came thick and fast and covered subjects as broad as piercings (Christian), piano-playing (Jeroen), The X-Factor (Oliver), age (Felipe, who remarked that his age was his “lucky number”!), previous GT Academy experience (Steffen and Giacomo) and just how it feels to be an Italian driving a Japanese car (Luca)!

In the end, despite the time and the tolls of the day, all the drivers gave good, sharp answers, with the occasional quip, wry, dry wit and a good word for the sponsors! All was wrapped up at 11pm, ready for their start at 6.30am the following day. I’m glad I’m not good enough to be a race driver…

Thanks, of course, go to Jardine International for asking GTP along and for all the help and support they gave during the day, particularly Rupert, Rebecca and Charlotte, the GT Academy judges who didn’t mind “Famine from the internet” speaking to them, the finalists who were all as overawed as I, Lucas Ordoñez for being a top bloke and Penrose Tackie, Sony’s European brand manager, who could be grilled with good grace and holds GTP in high regard.

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  1. Feb. 27, 12:35pm

    WhtRbt – they are actually making a TV show alongside the Academy. I believe it’ll be webcast but also broadcast on television – on Channel 4 in the UK, but I’m unaware of schedules for other territories.

  2. Feb. 26, 9:44pm

    Nice work Famine! GTP reppin!

  3. Feb. 26, 8:15pm

    This seems like it would make for a really cool TV show. Following the whole GT Academy process.

  4. Feb. 26, 7:37pm
    VVV Mars VG

    Sounds great, I’ll be popping up there to write a report tomorrow :)

  5. Feb. 26, 6:22pm

    In all seriousness, this place isn’t as small as it used to be… it has grown from a fan site to a legit GT news/media/discussion site… qualifies at straight up press in my eyes… press in the rawest and best form.

  6. Feb. 26, 5:04pm

    Woot! :D

    Glad to see you got a place, GTPlanet deserves to be recognised, and congratulations on beating the other journo’s ;)

  7. Feb. 26, 4:55pm

    “Excellent write up Famine, good to see GTPlanet has been recognised and got a press spot.”

    damn straight, this is great to see!

  8. Feb. 26, 4:26pm

    “the excitement of the 370Z hurt my hand”, driving a 370z must be exciting but not that exciting! ;)

  9. Feb. 26, 3:35pm

    Yes, great job Famine. Congrats on the best ‘media’ lap time too :D

    And keep the reports comin’.

  10. Feb. 26, 2:25pm

    Awesome. Great job Famine. That should prove that GTPlanet is a pretty serious GT site :)

  11. Feb. 26, 12:43pm

    Very entertaining read, cant wait for more reports :)

  12. Feb. 26, 12:37pm


  13. Feb. 26, 12:26pm

    Excellent write up Famine, good to see GTPlanet has been recognised and got a press spot. I’m sure you’re very relieved you got fastest press time! Didn’t they have any pain killing injections for your hand so you could do the karting?! ;)

  14. Feb. 26, 12:20pm
    Alex p.

    Congrats! Amazing experience I bet!

  15. Feb. 26, 12:19pm

    Nice report, Famine.

    Keep em coming!

  16. Feb. 26, 12:03pm

    Sweet man, congrats! Keep up the good work! :)

  17. Feb. 26, 12:00pm

    Very nice report! Can’t wait for the pictures. :)

  18. Feb. 26, 11:50am

    Got to get those Ariels in GT5…

  19. Feb. 26, 11:45am

    Yeah, it’s almost as fast off the mark as the Atom, but I’ve only ever passengered in that… Fastest thing I’ve driven by a bit of a margin!

  20. Feb. 26, 11:42am

    Thats got to be the fastest thing you’ve driven right? Totally insane car lol

  21. Feb. 26, 11:39am

    Against the publications I mean.

  22. Feb. 26, 11:38am

    I rocked that GT-R. Lucas was a good second and a half ahead of me, but they didn’t time him!

  23. Feb. 26, 11:38am

    You got to drive the Z’s and R35’s? jealous! Nice one for getting top time in Godzilla for the site!

  24. Feb. 26, 11:22am


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