Lucas Ordóñez Talks About GT Academy

lucas-ordonezWhen Lucas Ordonez won the first GT Academy, we all knew he had a lot of expectations riding on his shoulders. He would be given the opportunity to enter a 24 hour endurance race with world-class drivers and sim racers everywhere watched closely as he lived the dream. Since then, we’ve seen him win races and fight for the FIA GT4 driver’s championship around the world. He made it look all too easy, but as this latest interview shows, his accomplishments are the result of a lot of determination and hard work.

If you’re eligible for GT Academy 2010 – which begins in less than 10 days now – you’d be wise to take Lucas’ advice if you want to follow in his footsteps! Keep reading for the full interview…

Q. How did you first get involved with GT Academy?
LO: “I was with some friends and we were looking through a motor sport magazine and I saw an advert from PlayStation and Nissan for GT Academy. I have always been a big motor sport fan and had a little bit of racing experience. I thought if I can train myself to be quick on Gran Turismo then I might have a chance.

“I already had a PS3, but I went straight out to buy a steering wheel and pedals for it as I thought that this would help. I was really determined and I put in lots of hours of practice and developing my skills on the Gran Turismo game. I ended up being the second fastest in Spain and racing in the national finals and I won my place at Silverstone. There I was, driving the Nissan GT-R and the 350 Z at Silverstone…amazing!

Q. How did you find the GT Academy at Silverstone?
LO: “I was very surprised by how tough it was from the fitness angle and by the level of the other competitors. It was really hard work. But the driving was amazing. Driving the 350 Z in a three-way ‘dog fight’ was incredible.”

Q. Did you think you would win?
LO: “After the first couple of days I was down around sixth position and at that time I really thought it was going to be tough. But when we got to do more driving, especially in the last two days, I just really worked hard and my confidence grew. I had some good luck but I also think I handled the pressure well , and I won.”

Q. How did it feel when they announced that you were the winner?
LO: “When they said that Lars and I had won it was an amazing feeling. I couldn’t believe it. But then, almost immediately, Bob Neville [owner of the RJN Motorsports Team] was talking to me about strategy, the car and the races we were going to do. Then I had to do lots of media interviews and then Nissan were talking to me about my contract. So after two minutes, I suddenly already felt like a real, professional racing driver!”

Q. How was the switch from the 350 Z road car to the full race car?
LO: “Our first drive of the GT4 car was at Cadwell Park in the North of England. It is a great track, very narrow but a real up and down circuit and we learned a lot about racing and overtaking there.

“There is a massive difference in terms of driving between the 350 Z GT4 and the road car – particularly in the gearbox and the suspension set up. The GT4 needs to be ‘driven’ a lot more. The gearbox is very stiff and one little mistake with your revs can cause a disaster with the engine. The road car is far more forgiving and you have room for errors, but in the GT4 car you have to concentrate 100% for every second as one mistake and it can be all over.”

Q. You eventually secured your race licence and headed to Dubai for the 24 Hour race. How was that experience?
LO: “I worked so hard in the run up to Dubai, particularly on my fitness. I was absolutely determined to show everyone that I was capable of carrying on racing even after Dubai. I was so focussed on the race. All my friends were asking me what the city was like, but I honestly don’t know as everything was concentrated on driving.

“Doing 250km/h at night on the long straight in the GT4 car was truly amazing. I was really surprised and happy with my lap times because I wasn’t so far away from Johnny Herbert and I think I showed everyone that I was professional.”

Q. What happened next?
LO: “Well that was the prize. I had raced in Dubai. But I did ask Nissan if I could carry on racing somehow. It was a tough three-month wait, but then I got the call and it was a great surprise that I would be racing in the European GT4 Cup with Alex Buncombe.

“When we won our first race in the fifth round at Zolder it was an incredible feeling. I was just thinking about everything that had happened in the last year – from playing the PlayStation to this, and I started crying! The team and Alex were all so happy. It was the best feeling of my life.”

Q. How has your life changed? Did you finish your studies?
LO: “I did pass my MBA in January. It was hard work but I had to study at the same time as preparing for Dubai but I am very pleased that I did it.

“The biggest change in my life has been going from being a student going to university every day to now going to lots of other countries and travelling a lot. I have done many interviews with the media which is very different. At the same time, I still need to stay focussed on my racing and so I train very hard in the gym and I am also busy looking for personal sponsors. This is the real life of the racing driver!”

Q. What next?
LO: “I am going to help out at Silverstone for the GT Academy and then I hope to be racing with Alex again in the European GT4 Cup. We have an unfinished job to complete, but this time in the new 370 Z.”

Q. What would you say to someone who is looking to compete in GT Academy?
LO: “The whole thing is tough. But for me racing cars was my dream, so it was great. Anyone taking part has to be prepared for a real 360 degree change to their life. You have to have total dedication and be prepared to make sacrifices. Lars, who won with me, was a great guy and he was a good driver, but I just don’t think he was focussed enough and he ended up not being ready to race.

“On the other hand, driving on Gran Turismo is great fun. So I would recommend that everybody gives it a go even if it is just to see how quick you are compared to other people. You never know!”

Q. What tips can you offer to people just setting out on the online time trial stage of GT Academy 2010?
LO: “Driving is the same as most other sports. You have to keep practising. I think I played pretty much every day on the online stage of the game. People just kept getting faster so I was always watching the leader board to see what I had to beat.

“Another tip would be to start working on fitness as soon as possible. If you make it to Silverstone it is really important. You have to be confident in yourself that you can give it a go and that it is what you want to do, but you still have to work very hard. The instructors at Silverstone are watching you all the time. Finally, I would say just get on to the GT Academy time trial and play, see how it goes and good luck! It is definitely worth the hard work. But if you don’t make it, at least you will have fun trying!”

Learn more about Lucas at his official website.

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Comments (27)

  1. neem


    Are you suggesting that Sony is being racist by excluding the US? Have you considered the following:

    1. The driver training will take place at Silverstone, which is in the UK. A US citizen would require a Visa, would they not?

    2. Sony would (presumably) also have to pay for travel and accomodation and who knows what else, which would (again, presumably) be cheaper if the entrant was an EU citizen. Health Insurance, for example, would be easier to deal with in the EU… Then again I have no idea what the procedures are, this is just conjecture on my part but it’s not exactly an unreasonable assumption.

    ” I remember I made 1st place going 1:15:09 around the Eiger one week in HD, only to be beaten by some fool… …who bumped off the wall (more like tape and sticks) after the tunnel. C’mon PD!”

    Have you played GT5P recently?

    “(ironically he was European *cough*)”
    Pot, kettle, racist?

  2. BlackDog87

    the US and Canada are not missing out on the demo, just the GT Academy 2010 contest. For further clarification, refer to the GT Academy 2010: What We Know article on GTP.

  3. Joshua_TechNow

    Yes it does kind of sucks that Canada and the US are missing out on the speical download for GT5. I’ve been playing prolouge for a very long time now, and at sometimes i just switch to GT-HD or GT4. Like PD should be more serious about thier time trials, for instance if the driver hits the wall, go on the grass etc.. The time should be invalidated just like in GT5P. Rascism i’m not going to invlove it either, Just Create an account with another country selected, and you get the Demo on your ps3.

  4. drumc0de

    [quote]“I have always been a big motor sport fan and had a little bit of racing experience”[/quote]

    “Interesting comment and something I would’ve pressed Lucas on further.”

    His background was in karting. Fantastic to see him make the most of the opportunity he was given. And, yes, i think most of us would have liked to hear his thoughts on the differences between the virtual and real world racing, relative to driving the same vehicle.

    Congratulations, Lucas and good luck in the future.

  5. FlareKR

    What happened to the US? We have a mixture of pretty damn good drivers here. Rascism, I don’t know? I’m not gonna touch anymore on it.
    Physics AND DAMAGE (like complete damage) has to be added for legit lap times. I remember I made 1st place going 1:15:09 around the Eiger one week in HD, only to be beaten by some fool (ironically he was European *cough*) who bumped off the wall (more like tape and sticks) after the tunnel. C’mon PD!

  6. Mike M

    NBH-“Nice little interview but he didn’t really say whether driving the cars in GT was similar to real life. Interesting that he bought a wheel and pedals, that was a question I asked in the forum whether a wheel and pedal set up will help you get good times. I wonder who the top placed driver with a PS3 controller was?”

    I don’t any driving/racing sim on PC or Console could quite replicate real life driving. They might trigger a few sensations but some of the key ones will undoubtedly be missing. With Lucas, it probably more due to his ability to adapt.

    Still here’s a review of Prologue from a racing driver’s perspective:

  7. maxpontiac

    The dedication required to achieve this is more then I can ever offer with my family being more important.

    But wow..

  8. GTP_Davey07-O37

    Great Interview and I’ll have another bash at the GT Academy. Like what Emu76 said, I’d be happy too if Cadwell Park made it into GT5….Love that track…All the best to Lucas and co for next year…;-)…

  9. Emu76

    They trained at Cadwell? I live less than 10 miles away! If that track made it into GT5 because of this I would be SOOOOOOO happy.

  10. GT-Relentless

    Some of the fastest times on GT5 Prologue are set in very odd ways with people drifting cars in a not very realistic rallying style and not actualy sticking to the racing line as much as you would during a real race. I hope the new physics in the demo help to eliminate this as I prefer to drive more precise lines, I guess we will find out soon enough!

  11. Luke

    Well, fitness is a really big part in an endurance race, you have to stay focused for 2-3 hours, then you normally get some sleep, but surely not much, and after a few hours you´re driving again, that should make you tired very quickly. I`d love to test my own abilities like that, i`m pretty confident when it comes to staying awake and be focused, been on a few Lan partys, always the first to come and last to go :)
    Ah and don`t forget the pain you should get in your arms, racing doesn`t give you much opportunity to let them rest a while.

  12. Fredzy

    Really cool. Never would have thought fitness was such a big part… at least I have that part going for me! Now to reduce my level of not-diving-good-ness. Oh and move to Europe.

  13. GaBe_LoGaN

    Maybe I have a chance to be in the 20 fastest of my country, but I’m far away from driving fast a 370Z, I have zero racing experience :(.

  14. Sphinx

    [quote]”I have always been a big motor sport fan and had a little bit of racing experience”[/quote]

    Interesting comment and something I would’ve pressed Lucas on further.

    It’s shame that nearly all interviews done with Lucas never really go into detail in realtion to the ‘grass roots’ level (us being the grass roots level), becuase surely that’s what it’s all about for us, going from the bottom (virtual world) to the top (real world). Instead we always read about the real world, Silverstone and Dubai which is fine, but please, please please let’s hear about more things like his hardware setup, what wheel did Lucas use, did he use the clutch if he used a G25 (nothing wrong with that btw), did he feel compelled to make any setup adjustments in his quest to get into the top 20 for example?

    Great job and well done, Lucas.

  15. S3 Racer

    I learned EU law and this is a very tricky question!!
    Contest and winning games can in my understanding be made in selected countries from the Eu in case there are valid reason.
    Like Mc Do. does with it millionaire game. but in this case I don’t know because I can’t see a valid reason to restrict it to those countries. Because of a simple thing (i compare it to the millionaire game for better understanding):
    Mill. game takes place in 3 or 4 countries. But every EU citizen can go to those countires and play with and have equal chances of winning as does a citiyen of the selected country. (as it is teh same for lottery)
    this choice is not given with gt. Just habitants of these countires with a adress can play. (in fact you can for the 1 month contest opening, enrole in a other eu country as citizen; then sony could not say anything because Eu law let you do that and you got he right to do that in the EU(if you working this is far to complicated du to fiscality).
    So if we were americans (no offense, i rather think it can be a good thing if not exagerated), we would sue our right to participated. but that takes years in the EU countries, plus sony would stop making such contests.

    To be clear it pisses me off as much or even more as a lot of you. Even wrote a nice email to scee, but i don’t expect an answer. It’s a bit of BSing.

    So all we need to do in order to race: get a well paid job, start saving and pay your own race!!

  16. S3 Racer

    Damn :(
    Why Sony?? why beeing discriminating with the selection of countries.
    The may miss out on a real good driver because they don’t look everywhere.
    Sony : Europe has 27 countries so ?’
    Sry i’m still fed up with this since the last year…

    No but Lucas did an impressive job. An it’s clear that the pression by Sony, Nissan and the GT community must have been huge.

    Now I need to fast rebuild by driving rig before 17th!

  17. NBH

    Nice little interview but he didn’t really say whether driving the cars in GT was similar to real life. Interesting that he bought a wheel and pedals, that was a question I asked in the forum whether a wheel and pedal set up will help you get good times. I wonder who the top placed driver with a PS3 controller was?

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