Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy 2016 International Race Camp [DAY 1]

19 October 2016
Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy 2016 International Race Camp [DAY 1]

Day 1 | Bedford Autodrome

The waiting is over for 36 of the world’s elite Gran Turismo® gamers as they arrived in the UK yesterday for the start of the 2016 Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy International Race Camp.

The competitors, from Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, North Africa & Mexico, earned their place at Race Camp through a number of Live Events hosted across the world, where their virtual driving skills were put to the test on a pre-release version of GT Sport on PlayStation®4. From there, they were whittled down to a final six from a variety of National Finals, with Elysse Menorca from the Philippines becoming the first-ever female Race Camp finalist.

On arrival, the competitors would receive their clothing for the week (see assigned team colours in table below), undergo race suit fittings, medicals and TV interviews. After all of that had been completed, they were then greeted with their first surprise of 2016 Race Camp. While in previous years the gamers have stayed in hotel rooms, this year each territory will be sharing a tour bus, with on-board cameras giving the most in-depth look ever of the rollercoaster of emotions experienced as they chase the coveted GT Academy crown.

The competitors headed off site early on Wednesday morning to Bedford Autodrome, where they were given their first chance to show the judges and team leaders their aptitude behind the wheel of real cars. In an action-packed day, the competitors took to the North, South, East and West circuits at Bedford and had some exhilarating drives in Caterhams, Ariel Atoms, Nissan 370Z Race Cars and high-downforce Le Mans Prototype style sports cars, which are capable of 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. The morning driving challenges were given an added degree of difficulty, with overnight rain meaning the gamers had to contend with damp, drying tracks in these unfamiliar vehicles.

With many of the gamers not having set foot in a racing car before, it was more important than ever for them to lean on the experience of their mentors as they took the wheel of some incredibly powerful and diverse cars. Although there will be another day of challenges before the first elimination, it was vital for the gamers to get off on the right foot and make a good impression as they began their quest for glory.

Rob Barff, 2016 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy International Head Judge: “Today was a fantastic chance to get the competitors into a huge range of cars with over five hours of track time. All the cars have transponders and all have instructors in so we were able to capture a wealth of information about the core level of skill that the gamers arrive with, their ability to adapt to real racing cars and how they took on the advice given to them. If someone arrives quite good they might stand out now, but if in three days they’re still quite good, then that’s not for us. We’re potentially looking for that rough diamond that may have made a few mistakes early on today from pushing too hard, but is able to take on information, learn from their mistakes and get faster and faster.”

Chris McIvor, Australia competitor: “Today has been absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen a facility like this in all of my life and to be able to drive these cars is pretty cool! In the 370Z cars we weren’t given any tuition and were just told to drive and show everyone what we’re all about, so it’s all about applying what you’ve learned in the other cars but also adapting to something different. It’s great having Chiyo as our mentor, it was quite funny as after we’d taken part in our Caterham activity, he jumped into the car with no practice laps or familiarity with the car and beat us all so that gives us something to aim for! His experience as a professional race car driver is going to be so important to feed off and I can’t wait to learn more from him.”

Sandy Stuvik, Thailand team judge: “Throughout the day, you could see improvement from the competitors each time they got behind the wheel of a different car. I’ve been helping them with any issues they may have at this stage and gear shifts have been the most common hurdle that I’ve come across. However, I’m confident they’ll all do well and overcome this, they’re all really close in terms of lap times across the different challenges which is good to see. It was a great chance for them to experience so many disciplines of motorsport and they’ll definitely benefit from it and become much more rounded drivers as a result.”



Head Judge: Rob Barff


Judge: Katsumasa Chiyo

Chris McIvor


Bradley Packham


Michael Pryor


Steve Danielsen


Oscar Redfearn


Keishi Ayukai



Judge: Sandy Stuvik

Danuwat Worakitichai


Eakparin Thavornlumlert


Kanokphan Wathanakitanan


Manuttakon Scherer


Phureepat Poonperm


Ponpon Naraipitak



Judge: Diandra Gautama

Mohammad Faiz Rayyan


Catra Felder


Raditya Indera Syahieza


Mohammad Pandu W Hartanto


Dwinanto Sukmono


Ricko Boen


North Africa (Algeria, Egypt & Morocco)

Judge: Tamer Bashir

Mohamed Madaci


Mohamed Wally


Kamel Madaci


Hassan Abulkhasab


Karim Teggar


Oussama Benjelloun



Judge: Ricardo Sanchez

Johnny Guindi Hamui


Lorenzo Goicoechea Amieva


Gonzalo Castro Gutierrez


Enrique Rodriguez Manjarrez


Gabriel Ortiz Vega


Oscar Jaime Arrambide



Judge: Lucas Ordonez

Quattro Adriano


Jan Millard Lacuna


Kim Jigier Aquino Chong


Mervin John Mallen


Richard Dean Jose


Elysse Menorca