Mexico’s Ricardo Sanchez Wins GT Academy International 2014

August 15th, 2014 by Andrew Evans


Ricardo Sanchez of Toluca, Mexico has won the first GT Academy International competition, following a battling final race and split judges’ decision at Silverstone.

Following four days of hard-fought competition, each region had only two drivers remaining going into day five and activity started with a team relay dirt buggy race that would determine the start slots for the final showdown the following day. With one of the strongest teams, Australia were favourites, but disaster struck as Marcello Rivera rolled the buggy, allowing Thanaroj Thanasitnitiket of Team Thailand to take the win from the Middle East, Mexico and India, with Australia coming home at the back.

No sooner was that over than the drivers were sprung with a dogfight elimination for the final event – three laps of the Stowe Circuit in the Nismo 370Zs starting at opposite sides of the track. The last five eliminations were:

  • Australia – Marcello Rivera
  • India – Prakash Nair
  • Mexico – Jake Vite Prekop
  • Middle East – Hadi Abdel Hadi (Lebanon)
  • Thailand – Chonthawatch Meepasanee

The final day was dedicated to the race-off, with an early practice session on Silverstone’s National Circuit amid occasional showers (a thunderstorm holding off until the end of the session) showing Thanasitnitiket’s pace as he set the fastest time from India’s Abhinay Bikkani.

16691_10152310558050197_3103248972223148313_nWith the early afternoon race taking place on a greasy circuit, Australian Josh Muggleton caused some concern on the green flag lap, getting away very late. The start itself was a different matter as pole sitter Thanasitnitiket made an awful start that dumped him right to the back immediately as Sanchez leapt up the inside along the pit wall to get to the front of the pack. Muggleton immediately showed his mettle, lining Bikkani up for a pass into Brooklands before mugging Bin-Khanen the following lap through Luffield.

The chase was on – Sanchez had built a lead in the first half while Muggleton drove through the pack, but the Australian bit into it lap by lap and going across the line into the last lap there was little to choose. Sanchez, a little late into Brooklands, opened a door for Muggleton on the inside of Luffield, but closed it again with the nose of the yellow #5 already alongside his rear wheel. Despite the minor scrape, Sanchez was able to take the win by just 0.6s.

With the judges having to decide between Muggleton’s last (through no fault of his own) to second performance and Sanchez’s race win (starting from third), deliberations took some time – reminiscent of the hours taken to choose between Faisca and Suswillo in the 2013 European Race Camp – until Rob Barff announced Ricardo Sanchez as the winner.

Ricardo now joins Gaëtan Paletou and the as-yet unnamed German winner in the gruelling Nissan/GT Academy Driver Development Program ahead of the 2015 Dubai 24 Hours.

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  1. Aug. 17, 8:36am

    Congratulations to all finalist and especially to the winner Ricardo Sanchez :-) Good luck in the professional race driver career ;-)

  2. Aug. 16, 9:41pm

    Nice win Ricardo, good luck with your career.

  3. Aug. 16, 12:05am

    Some jealous kids gonna say the winner had won because he had a lot of experience, but the truth is that he won by luck.

    • Aug. 16, 12:33am
      Cloud Strife7

      he won , period …

    • Aug. 16, 2:33am

      The judges choosed the winner. I higly doubt they where focus on the sole finish stands, so the luck faktor is not the main reason why Ricardo won the Academy.

    • Aug. 16, 7:12am

      Racing drivers have got to have luck too…

    • Aug. 16, 11:23am

      he won because he was the best. sorry your favorite didn’t win. the only “jealous kids” are the ones that lost.

  4. Aug. 15, 4:42pm

    Hmm, why when Australia get a For GT ACADEMY, it becomes an International event. Why couldn’t it stay as the Australian event? Didn’t the USA have its own GTA? I think that’s fair after Australia was not given a GTA each year. And I’m North American living in Australia.

    • Aug. 15, 7:01pm

      The population of Australia is one twelfth the size of the population of the USA. And one fiftieth the size of the population of India, who also competed in the International Race Camp.

      The last time Australia (and New Zealand) was included in GT Academy, it was in the European competition in 2010.

  5. Aug. 15, 3:51pm

    If they had to have a meeting just to see who the winner was, then they should let both drivers into the Nismo program.

    • Aug. 15, 4:03pm

      They do at every GT Academy. Ever.

  6. Aug. 15, 3:27pm

    Muggleton is the obvious winner, it’s him that is faster, but maybe to be fair they could let both of them through. :-(

  7. Aug. 15, 12:42pm

    Congrats Ricardo! Unfortunate for Josh though. :( Was hoping he could take home the victory.

  8. Aug. 15, 9:39am

    Congratulations Ricardo.

  9. Aug. 15, 7:27am

    I feel somehow sorry for Josh. Too bad there has to be only one winner. Well….. congratulation to Ricardo and good luck for the future racing.
    Imagine to win the Academy… man I envy those guys. :)

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