Miguel Faisca has become the latest European GT Academy Champion as he now sets his sights on a full season of racing in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.
The 24-year-old Portuguese Gran Turismo racer from Lisbon beat over 765,000 other hopefuls to take the 2013 crown and join the list of Nissan Nismo sports cars. After whittling the entries down to the top 42, gamers gathered at Silverstone to begin the process of becoming a real-life racing driver.
The 42 were then split in to seven territory groups and guided by high profile judges and mentors, including Johnny Herbert, Rene Arnoux, Stefan Johansson and Vitantonio Liuzzi. The field was gradually reduced thanks to a series of tough challenges testing driving ability, fitness, attitude, psychological strength and potential.
Only one driver from each territory group remained for the final day of Race Camp, where they first repeated a ‘benchmark’ test which they first took part in on the opening day of the week on the National circuit layout in a 370Z Nismo. The competitors then took to the circuit for practice and qualifying sessions in 370Z race machines. During the week, all the drivers took an ARDS test at the circuit, having no real racing experience prior to the event.
The top two finishers from each heat progressed to the final, with Faisca lining up against Belgian Romain Delva, Swedish Filip Larsson and British Adam Suswillo. The rain had descended early in the morning, catching out Delva, who spun from the lead on the second of eight laps allowing Faisca through. Faisca held on to the win despite a late charge from Suswillo.
The GT Academy then discussed the four remaining drivers before announcing that Faisca was the 2013 GT Academy Champion. He will return to Silverstone in October to continue his training alongside the German, Russian and American Race Camp winners.
“I’m very proud,” said a delighted Miguel. “I didn’t expect to win this morning. I don’t think I was one of the favourites. But I was feeling good with the car and the track and I quite like the rain conditions. I didn’t get a good start and I was second. Once I got into the lead it was very difficult to keep it, but I am so happy. This is the start. It is going to be very hard work, but I can’t wait to get going. Thanks to Nissan and PlayStation for this opportunity. It is fantastic to be the first Portuguese winner.”
“This is the fifth GT Academy and we have come a long way since 2008,” added Darren Cox, Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport. “All of the PlayStation gamers have come here better prepared than ever before and the competition is fierce. It is good to see, however, that at its core, GT Academy remains true to its principles. It is growing, developing and gaining credibility each year. It was very satisfying to see how our winner from last year [Wolfgang Reip] was here doing an amazing job as a mentor, showing how much he has grown as both a driver and personality, while our first winner Lucas [Ordoñez] has now mentored our new winner.”