Two Gamers Helped Drive Nissan To The Bathurst 12 Hour Championship

Two Gamers Helped Drive Nissan To The Bathurst 12 Hour Championship

Yesterday, the Nissan GT-R won the Bathurst 12 Hour race — AKA the King of the Mountain race — and it did so in a strange fashion. It wasn’t a team of seasoned professional drivers that helped Nissan to the championship, it was a pair of gamers, who developed their driving skills playing Gran Turismo.

News has a great report on the race itself, including a great look at how Wolfgang Reip and Florian Strauss took the Nissan GT-R to victory. Both were graduates of Nissan’s GT Academy programme — a competition that allows gamers to compete for a $1 million contract to race for Nissan Motorsport around the globe. Reip was the winner in 2012 and Florian Strauss took the championship in 2013. Now both are legitimate professional drivers, and amazing ones at that.

“It’s a bit of a hidden program we need to do more with, as you can see the quality of drivers it’s producing,” said Richard Emery, CEO of Nissan Australia.

“I think we probably underestimate what it’s like for a guy who two years ago didn’t have a racing license and is now racing in the dark at Mount Panorama.”

It’s pretty incredible, but speaks to, firstly, the accuracy of Gran Turismo as a video games and, secondly, the potential for gamers to transfer their in-game driving skills onto the track.

The GT Academy is an international competition that’s been running for several years now and the winners of each competition have shone in real life competition. Gaëtan Paletou, a 22-year-old from France, is the most recent winner of the competition, and will now undergo four months of intense development training with Nissan before competing in actual races, the same as previous winners of the competition. Late last year Lucas Ordóñez, the first winner of the competition won his first GT300 race in the 7th round of the Super GT series.


Australia had six entries into the last GT Academy International competition in 2014, with Josh Muggleton being our star performer, but Riccardo Sánchez ended up taking the final prize. There will, however, be another chance for Australia to race for Nissan through the GT Academy program. Richard Emery told News that Nissan is hoping to bring the GT Academy International competition back to Australia in 2015.

Nissan wins the Bathurst 12 Hour with GT Academy drivers behind the wheel [News]


      • Had to start the final race from last because his Australian team mate crashed in the previous race (from the lead no less). He still worked his way to 2nd and put a move on the leader going into the last corner but couldn’t make it stick. Judges were split between the two drivers but awarded it to Sanchez for the final win.

        Also funny to see Fox Sports finally acknowledge this race even happened after their weekend black out due to their V8 deal.

        • It was legitimately a stupid decsion, it was clear who the best driver was on the day, but the rules were obviously black and white – the winner gets through.

  • Haven’t played much GT but had a go of GT5 with a friend’s wheel/pedal setup with force-feedback and it really felt realistic, enough to tell me that I’d be a pretty crappy race driver without a LOT of practice 🙂

    • He was already a pro. The other two holding their own is the real story, given their background.

      This GT Academy thing puzzles me, though. What if you have some morbidly obese guy who sits at home and wrecks people online all day, but can’t fit through a car door?

      • Part of the selection criteria is a fitness test, if they don’t pass that, they can’t proceed with the comp.

  • Woo go Nissan! Proud owner of a R34 here and couldn’t be happier that a GTR GT3 won, especially by gamers.

  • One thing you wont see reported is both the winner of Class B and the winner of Saturdays Formula Ford race both got started sim racing as well .

    Sam Power (Porsche Group B Winner, Porsche super cup driver) and Scott Andrews (Formula Ford, former comodore cup) used to tear us up in an old race sim called Live for Speed. Scott used to race karts where as Sam had no real word experience. Sam got into Formula Fords a few years ago and now will be racing in the Porsche super cup for the first time this year after 2 years of Carrerra cup in Australia. The super cup is the largest internation single make series in the world. Scott has been doing some forumla 2000 races in America i believe lately as well. Both great talents and could have shown the Nismo Gran Turismo boys a thing or two in the same class!

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