Along with an expansion to new territories, GT Academy has expanded to a new gender as Faiza Al Kindi – known on GTPlanet as “Hollow” and pictured here with GT Academy judge Sabine Schmitz – became the first woman to qualify for a regional final.
Though women have always been eligible for the competitions, Faiza”s performance in the qualifier event for the Middle East Academy was the first time a woman has set a qualifying time good enough to be invited to a regional final.
Running alongside the Dubai 24 Hours, the Middle East regional final took a familiar format of Gran Turismo 5 challenges, media tests, fitness and real racing challenges in the Nissan 370Z sports car, to narrow the field down to eight finalists who were invited to a Silverstone Race Camp event. With the 2012 winners, Sabine, Lucas Ordoñez and UAE-born racing legend Mohammed bin Sulayem in attendance, the racers faced serious challenges before the eventual eight finalists were chosen. Faiza, from Abu Dhabi, was unfortunately not amongst the qualifiers, who are:
- Abdullah Al Qaoud (Kuwait)
- Al Sadiq Al Yousef (KSA)
- Aseel Mohammed Nasr (KSA)
- Haitham El Fakhouri (Lebanon)
- Salman AL Khater (Qatar)
- Sam Zian (UAE)
- Steve Smuts (UAE)
- Tarek Khedr Mostafa (Egypt)
These eight will make their way to Silverstone at the end of January to pick a single winner. That winner will find themselves on the same driver development program as the previous GTA winner, to obtain an International C Licence and a chance at a race seat for the Silverstone 24 Hours in September 2013.
Meanwhile a series following the European competition from 2012 has been given a TV schedule by leading UK broadcaster ITV. Starting at 8pm on February 4th, ITV4’s six episode “GT Academy 2012” focusses on the six UK & Republic of Ireland finalists as they attend the race camp for the 2012 event. Presented by Craig Doyle, the show follows Des, Thomas, Dan, Jack, David and István as they seek to follow Jann Mardenborough to represent the British Isles in world motorsport.
Images courtesy of Hollow.