We’ve had some high-pressure hands on in our time, but this was as intense as it gets. We had a 60-minute slot in the 24 hour long Gran Turismo 5 race at the Australian International Motor Show, and we were sitting on the sidelines itching to grab the baton.
But then we hit the changeover, and immediately slammed it up the straight. We maxed out at over 240 km/hour before the slightest left dogleg sent us spinning, careening into the barrier at full speed. This was not Mario Kart, this was Gran Turismo 5 and it sure as hell isn’t forgiving - but stick with it and you’ll unlock one of the most rewarding racing games on the planet.
We jumped in halfway through lap 174 - the 9am slot. And after 17 hours of racing there wasn’t more than three minutes between the two races competing side-by-side – so the pressure was on, We were driving the FT-86 G Sports concept, a car that won’t hit the streets until 2012, in the 22km at Nürburgring.
As someone who plays Gran Turismo at the lowest, most casual level, we went into this hour-long endurance race fully expecting to cramp up or, at the very least, degenerate into some zen-induced karmic boredom – but we were surprised to find ourselves not only engaged, but riveted by the whole experience.
“Great graphics, eh?” said the Toyota assistant overseeing the race, providing enough of a distraction to send us spinning for what seemed like the 37th time – but it wasn’t the visuals that had us enthralled. For the first time in donkey’s years, we actually found ourselves simply enjoying the act of driving in a video game. Maybe it was the occasion, maybe it was the race environment, or the fact that the race kinda meant something, but we found the Gran Turismo 5 experience a very satisfying one – and we have a renewed excitement for the game.
If it ever gets released!
The Australian International Motor Show runs until the 24th of October at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.