Steven Doherty Explains What It’s Like to Be a GT Academy Champion

July 1st, 2013 by Jordan Greer

On the eve of the highly anticipated Gran Turismo 6 demo and the start of GT Academy 2013, 2012 champion Steven Doherty offers some advice and behind-the-scenes insight into what it’s like to win the competition in an exclusive interview with GTPlanet.

When the cameras aren’t rolling, what has life been like for you? What types of things are you doing behind the scenes?

“After September, through the 24 Hours of Dubai, we were working pretty much every day, between psychology sessions, media training, actual races, and fitness training days. I think we had a total of a week off over the course of the three months combined. We were quite busy!

“After Dubai they told us we’d be doing the Blancpain season. The GT3 cars are a whole different world compared to the GT4 so to go into that car I had to keep training really hard. That car is a lot hotter inside and a lot harder to drive.

“It’s going to be one hour stints in the Spa 24 hour race, so that’s six stints and it’s going to be really hard to do all in one day, and I’m still training quite a bit for that.”

How do you prepare for something like that? Are you spending time in simulators, and do you do that length of a stint as you would in the actual race?

“In the simulators, we are just now starting to do that, with the same stints as we would do in the real car. At first it was just for track learning.

“Actually, I practiced quite a bit on Monza in Gran Turismo 5 before I actually raced there. In my opinion it’s a better sim than the professional, high-end simulator system that we used in our training!

“I was practicing in the Super GT GT-R, which is supposed to be about 10 seconds a lap faster than our GT3 car in real life. Sure enough, it was also 10 seconds quicker in the game!”

Has the experience of winning GT Academy been what you expected? What’s been your biggest surprise after becoming the 2012 champion?

“The biggest surprise was to know that I would be racing in Europe this year.

“Bryan [Heitkotter], he did a few races last year but wasn’t too busy, and I dedicated pretty much everything I have before Dubai.

“Obviously, it paid off, and I never imagined I would be driving at Monza, or the Nurburgring, or racing a GT3 car at Spa!”

It’s very clear that your weight and fitness has improved dramatically. What types of things have you done in training?

“The main thing I started before was the diet – you have to eat a lot better to have the energy levels to train.

“Last week, I trained every day for two hours a day. I really worked hard. I will be here through July, but the time and dedication spent away from home really does pay off.”

Have they involved you in GT6 development at all?

“We found out a couple of things yesterday, but up until then they’ve kept us in the dark! I’m still looking to get some free DLC for GT5!”

What would be your advice for people competing this year? Would you have done anything different in your preparations?

“Start training early, as soon as you can. I started about a month and a half before Race Camp, but even that wasn’t enough time.

“If you are serious about it, start training and play the game as much as possible. I think the main thing was that I never really believed that I could do it – I just kept thinking when am I going to get kicked out? Do I really belong here?

“But, if you are going to try it, believe you can win, because really, anyone can win. I wasn’t the fastest guy or the most fit, but when it counted I performed and proved to everyone that I wanted to be here, and wanted to do it and wanted the job. So, if you have that determination, and if you want to win, believe in yourself because you really can do it.

“When I had that dog fight at Race Camp, the reality of ‘If I don’t win, I’m going home,’ clicked in me and that’s when my real potential came out. I won the go-kart racing and I had some good confidence from that, like maybe I did belong here. I did well in the drifting and the truck stuff, but in the other benchmarks I didn’t perform as well.”

Were you surprised by the quality and skill level of the other competitors when you got to Race Camp?

“Yeah, I was completely surprised because after I talked to people at the National Finals, it seemed like almost nobody had any actual in-car driving experience. I raced oval track and they are just cars that pretty much anybody can race with $25. That was my only experience, but I did at least have that.

“Then, there were people like Matt, who was still really young, but he had done some track days and had more experience than me.”

Do you keep in touch with a lot of those guys from Race Camp?

“A few of them, yeah, probably Erik more than anyone. We got along really well. I talked to Matt and Darwin recently as well. We are pretty good friends. I was sad to see him go, him and Steve Diem; we pushed each other and were each other’s biggest fans.

“Everyone from San Diego got along really well, though; it was surprising just how awesome everyone was. At Race Camp, everybody got along and hung out, even after they were eliminated.” 

One last question – do you ever want to see Twin Ring Motegi again?

“Haha! If I was actually there, it wouldn’t bother me! I put so many hours and hours of practice in on that track, to the point I was really burned out. I missed the finals in 2011 by just six hundredths of a second, and that disappointment of being so close almost made me angry, but I didn’t put the amount of hours into the competition that I did in 2012.

“I just knew I would have to play it until I couldn’t play it any more. I think I qualified 25th – not the fastest but it was enough, and now, here I am!”

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  1. Jul. 2, 6:52pm

    How fast can a Super GT GTR go if fitted with the GT3 engine?

  2. Jul. 2, 5:42am

    Awesome interview Steve.. and.. Congrats on your success. Well earned!

  3. Jul. 2, 12:07am

    The demo goes live at 8:00 GMT. Right now in GMT it’s 4:07. I’m literally about to stay up until 4 in the morning New York time just because I really want to play GT6!

    • Jul. 2, 12:12am

      Me too. :D

    • Jul. 2, 12:13am

      Damn I’m in NY too but I was hoping it would have been on by 3am. That way I could have started in the morning but guess not. But oh well it’s finally here so no more waiting long weeks for it. Lol.

  4. Jul. 2, 12:06am

    The demo isn’t available yet. It’ll probably be available by morning. :)

  5. Jul. 1, 10:50pm

    I can’t wait to play the demo. Should be fun.

    • Jul. 1, 11:29pm
      SZRT Ice

      Yes. I’m looking forward to riding the line between a drift and a rollover personally.

  6. Jul. 1, 10:17pm

    This year I aim to win… hahaha, not really, I have a controller, it’s impossible for me to win :D

  7. Jul. 1, 9:30pm

    Please don’t tell me the GT6 demo requires Playstation Plus.

    • Jul. 1, 9:51pm

      Keep calm :p No, Playstation Plus isn’t needed.

    • Jul. 1, 10:51pm

      Honestly I wish it did.

      Unless you don’t like free games, there’s no reason you shouldn’t already have PS Plus. It’s one of the best investments in gaming ever.

    • Jul. 1, 11:27pm
      SZRT Ice

      Unless you have no interest in any of the games being offered. Then it’s a complete waste of money. Especially for the games that only work underneath the subscription that are rendered unplayable and useless once your subscription is up. Unless you resubscribe.

    • Jul. 2, 12:12am

      I haven’t had any reason to get PS Plus. I play online and that’s all I’ve needed of PSN. GT5, COD BO2, and occasionally Dirt 3. No reason for me to pay $50 a year until I have to sometime with PS4 in like a year or 2. Honestly if GT Academy was on PS Plus this year, I just wouldn’t play it. Despite playing GT5 since its release, I don’t have a wheel and I know I can’t win without one. Then it would basically become a $50 DLC pack for a couple GT academy cars, and I don’t need that.

    • Jul. 2, 12:15am

      ^Speaking if PS4, will I be able to transfer my save data from GT6 on PS3 to GT6 on PS4? Mostly that’s just thinking in terms of if we got a livery maker because I know I would spend stupid amounts of time on liveries for my favorite cars, lol. Still, seeing there will be a transition period of a year or 2, it would be a great feature to have.

    • Jul. 2, 12:15am

      @SZRT Ice: I agree with you. I don’t have PS+ and I don’t care too. I need to update my HDD cuz I’m running out of space anyways and those games would just clog it up. Plus I don’t like most of those games anyways. But when I get a ps4(not for a long time) then i will because its manditory for online but by then I won’t care.

    • Jul. 2, 12:20am

      @Amac500: sadly I don’t think GT6 will even be released for PS4. Pretty sure they said ps3 exclusive. Due to the porting and other things. So maybe by GT7 times we might be able to. Now GT5 cars to GT6 seems possible. I hope my garage carries over to 6.

  8. Jul. 1, 9:15pm

    It’s kind of funny how the racing world is being rocked by a bunch of out of shape doe boyz who never raced a car before and come out of nowhere. Great job Steve

  9. Jul. 1, 6:02pm

    congrats steve… nice story

  10. Jul. 1, 4:05pm

    Fourth…! I’m 16… I could only wish I can go on to the finals lol. I was top 3000 on seventh attempt or so on a couple of trials last year. this year will go for it, and enjoy silverstone along the way. I feel too cocky when it comes to my driving license. Sure, i don’t know how it actually feels like to drive a car, weaving through tight spaces, getting a spatial awareness of it. i acknowledge that and know im naive in that sense…. BUT, i DO know how cars behave now, thanks to so much time on GT5 :)

  11. Jul. 1, 3:56pm

    Great advice! Shame 16 year olds can’t compete in the finals :(

  12. Jul. 1, 3:23pm

    Wow! Great story! Good luck with your new racing career! :)
    Live your dream to the full :)

  13. Jul. 1, 3:07pm


    • Jul. 1, 11:28pm
      SZRT Ice


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