GT Academy 2015 Wraps Up, Winner Announced
Years of successful gamer-to-racer returns have proven that the GT Academy, hosted by Nissan and PlayStation, can find race game players who have talent on actual race tracks behind the wheel of real cars. This year, the GT Academy finalists came from around the globe and assembled at the historic Silverstone racetrack in the United Kingdom for a final six-day run of race driving. It culminated in a race between contestants that ultimately found a winner, who will go on to train as a NISMO athlete in Nissan motorsports.
There were ten finalists left when the Academy's finale began and only one winner when it was over. Each competitor took 20 laps in a 370Z NISMO under tutelage of a mentor from the GT Academy stable of instructors. They then did five laps with the mentor in the passenger seat, watching for improvements. Judges tracked the changes in performance as part of the scoring. A key component of the GT Academy is not how well a contestant performs outright, but how well the student learns to improve performance over the course. So an experienced race driver may not necessarily have an advantage in the competition. Professionals know that the ability to continue to learn and improve is of paramount importance to a race-winning career on the track.
Ten final minutes of driving to hone skills and warm up for a final race led to the race itself, in which finalists raced for the win. A stock car challenge the day before had narrowed the field to five. Matthew Simmons of Australia lined up on the front row of the grid, followed by Ryan Lynch (USA), Hüseyin Dağlı (Turkey) in third, Ali Samy (North Africa) fourth, and Juan Carlos Carmona (Mexico) starting at the back. Winning the final race was not necessarily a guarantee of a win for the GT Academy showdown, however, as proven this year. A mechanical failure in his car caused Simmons to fall out of the final running despite holding the lead for much of the race.
That didn't mean Simmons wouldn't win the ultimate prize for the week. After an hour of deliberations and scoring totals, Matthew Simmons was named the winner of the 2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy International Race Camp.