GT Academy Team Nets Dubai Class Podium


None of them had sat in a race car before August 2014, yet today they’re celebrating a second-in-class finish in a GT3 car at an international 24 hour race.

Running in the top “A6” category of cars, but placed in the Amateur category for their relative lack of experience, Ahmed, Ricardo, Gaetan and Nic (joined in the middle by NISMO Athlete Florian Strauss) survived 24 hours in the desert to finish 5th overall and 2nd in class to complete a remarkable result for such an extremely young team. A couple of drive through penalties took a little shine off the event, but didn’t affect the result as the team were 7 laps ahead of their nearest class competitor and 9 laps down on the class winning car – driven by GT Academy judge Rob Barff!

2015_Dubai24_007It was Florian who took both the start and finish with the #23, having qualified it in 14th place on Thursday. Surviving the 95 car start was a key stepping stone for success later on in the race, given Dubai’s unusual minimum lap time requirements and the unique way the cars are refuelled (at an actual gas station). Gaetan and Ahmed took the car through the afternoon and evening, handing over to Ricardo and Nic who were tasked with the first night stints – proving there’s some advantage to have drivers operating on Western Hemisphere time!

By the time Florian had finished his second tour in the morning, the team had built up a five lap lead over the third placed A6-Am car and, with the class leading Dragon Racing car (who also counted FIA silver and gold-ranked drivers in their entry list) too far ahead to catch, Gaetan and Ricardo were under orders to stroke the car home. This left Florian to take the last laps and the chequered flag, just behind the winning Black Falcon Mercedes SLS, for his 4th 24 hour race since he won GT Academy Germany in 2013.

2015_Dubai24_008It’s another remarkable result for GT Academy and the now-famed Nissan Driver Development Program that four gamers can be thrust into a 24 hour race less than 4 months after swapping their controllers (or gaming wheels!) for a HANS device and grab silverware, without the protection of a known quantity professional driver – their co-driver being another gamer who did the same thing 12 months earlier.

With Gaetan, Ricardo, Ahmed and Nic joining the throng of GT Academy graduates with Dubai silverware to their name, we’re looking forward to see what the 2015 motorsports season holds for the NISMO Athletes!

Images courtesy of GT Academy.

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Comments (10)

  1. Crozzlow

    Congrats to GTA Team!! That is a fantastic achievement. I was able to watch a few hours of the stream, very intense and entertaining!

  2. sayba2th

    This is fantastic news for GT, Kaz, Nismo and the drivers yet again do we see a triumph from some gamers in a very cut throat, expensive sport making waves. This goes to prove that GT has its place in history and now has to be of some importance by turning out results as such. Vive la GT!

    @ savage evil, very nicely summed up!

  3. SavageEvil

    What I like about GT Academy is it shows that talent lies everywhere, not just though traditional channels. While this might be making some traditional drivers a bit edgy that some young upstarts who less than a year ago were playing on consoles are out here on a real life track putting down some serious times and proving that they are more than just game players.
    Life is one seriously funny turn of events, without GT Academy who would thought that any video game player would be capable of any of this, Jann Mardenborough seems to be the wonder kid from U.K., just looking at his performance is completely boggling. I will be very interested to see where the new line of recruits end up, this might take the motorsport world a bit of time to adjust to but these guys are no joke and really pushing the human ability to be quite amazing even if what they’ve done up until this was little more than what the average person does. Humans we’re amazing when we aren’t being total jerks and starting wars and killing for dumb reasons, how come we can’t have more of this?

  4. BrunetPaquet

    Ahhh,haha… and people say that certain video games can’t translate to real-life improvement. “Et Bim!!” in their face!

  5. TRLWNC7396

    Congratulations to all! This is an amazing result, but no less than expected with this team! Go Nissan, GT Academy, RJN, and all! :)

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