- Gamer clinches thrilling Race Camp success and wins place on the Nissan Driver Development Programme and a race seat in the 2016 Dubai 24 Hours
Jose Gerard-Policarpio from the Philippines has won the opportunity of a lifetime at Silverstone today after being named the first-ever Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy Asia champion.
The 26-year-old fought off competition from 28 of the best Gran Turismo® gamers from across Asia, winning a place on the Nissan Driver Development Programme and a race seat in the 2016 Dubai 24 Hours. The decision came after an epic six-day Race Camp, with Policarpio chosen as the winner for his consistently impressive performances throughout the week and a well-driven final race.
Race Camp came to an end with a thrilling ten-lap race around Silverstone’s International Circuit in Nissan 370Z NISMO race cars which went right down to the last corner. Pole-sitter Andika Rama from Indonesia started the race well and led into the first corner, ahead of Policarpio from the Philippines who had leapfrogged Takuya Takahashi from Japan. Policarpio quickly got on the tail of Rama and for the first four laps the pair crossed the line separated by under a second with Takahasi settled in third just under two seconds behind. However after patiently waiting for his opportunity, Policarpio then made his move on the fifth lap to incisively take the lead of the race. Unfortunately the fifth lap proved to be the end of Takahashi’s race as he limped into the pits with a mechanical problem. This left Policarpio and Rama to fight it out unchallenged at the front, with the pair once again staying in very close proximity.
The drama was saved for the last lap however with Policarpio getting a very slow exit out of Club corner, this left Rama right on his tail and after following him closely through Stowe, was poised to make a move into the final corner. Rama went for the move but some impressive defensive driving from Policarpio meant he held on and crossed the line just two-tenths clear of his rival.
Jose Gerard Policarpio, Philippines competitor and 2015 GT Academy Asia Winner: “I can’t even believe I won, it’s amazing, I feel so good. Never in my life did I think I’d be here. The race was so nerve-racking, when I got past Andika at Abbey I just kept looking back because he was starting to gain on me. I didn’t even notice the checkered flag, it just sunk in when I got back in the pitlane that I won. It’s just amazing!”
Policarpio earned his place at Race Camp from the hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo gamers that entered the competition across Asia. Having won through the Philippines National Final, he arrived at Silverstone as one of six to represent the Philippines, alongside 28 Asia competitors overall, split into five territory groups. Each group formed a close bond with their territory judge, who acted as a mentor, but then had to make the difficult decisions when it came to eliminations from the competition.
The on-track action got underway in the United Kingdom on Saturday, with six finalists from Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and five from India making up the 29-strong line-up. For Japan, Philippines and Indonesia, this was the first year that a GT Academy competition had been run in their territory, with both Thailand and India debuting as part of GT Academy International in 2014. While Mexico’s Ricardo Sanchez was the 2014 winner, the opportunity provided a springboard for the racing careers of territory winners Thanaroj Thanasitnitiket (Thailand) and Abhinay Bikkani (India) who have both picked up wins in this year’s Nissan Micra Cup, based in Canada.
Throughout their time at Asia Race Camp, a series of both racing and physical challenges whittled the gamers down to a final ten this morning that were still in contention of being GT Academy Asia champion. Each judge then had to decide between their two best drivers for who would take the wheel of the 370Z NISMO race cars for a ten-lap race of Silverstone’s International Circuit.
The challenges came thick and fast throughout their week at Race Camp, with gamers being thrown into the action straight away on their first day where they got behind the wheel of single seaters, Caterham racers, Nissan GT-Rs and JPLM cars at Bedford Autodrome. Throughout the week, various surprise challenges were thrown at them including the ‘GT Ninja’ assault course, an innovative army-style Gymkhana driving race, dune buggy racing, head-to-head timed shootouts on the Silverstone track and an incredibly eventful Nissan Micra stock car race which saw only two cars finish which decided the starting grid for today’s final race.
Rob Barff, 2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy Asia Head Judge said: “Jose Gerard has had pace all week, he’s been right at the top of our score sheets and he was second in the race up until the point when Indonesia made one mistake, bang, through clinically and he never made an error. I’m really really proud of him. We’ve had our eye on him since Bedford earlier on in the week, he’s been in our top three to watch and I look forward to working with him in the future.”
Darren Cox, Nissan Head of Motorsport: “Congratulations to Jose Gerard on becoming our first-ever GT Academy Asia champion. The global expansion of GT Academy has been fantastic this year and we’re delighted to have been able to host the first-ever Asia Race Camp. I can’t stress enough how much enthusiasm the new markets have had for the competition and how they’ve embraced it with open arms. They only have to look at the instant rewards and opportunities that drivers from new markets have been given as a result of GT Academy and it’s great that we’re able to provide them this unique route into the world of motorsport.”
Policarpio’s opportunity of a lifetime will begin right away, where he will receive world-class racing tuition and physical training from Nissan to prepare him for his endurance race debut in Dubai next January, where he will be part of the same driver line-up as International Race Camp winner Matthew Simmons. To follow their progress as well as previous GT Academy winners, more details about GT Academy can be found on various platforms including: www.facebook.com/GTAcademy, www.gran-turismo.com and Twitter @GTAcademy
About GT Academy 2015
GT Academy is a collaboration between PlayStation® and Nissan that uses the virtual world of the Gran Turismo®6 game to unearth real-world racing talent. Now in its seventh year, GT Academy includes separate competitions for Europe (France, Italy, Germany, UK, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland , Hungary, Czech Republic), Asia (Japan, India, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia) and ‘International’ (USA, Australia, Mexico, Egypt, Algeria, Turkey).
The GT Academy qualification round will be part of a free Gran Turismo®6 update on PlayStation®3 (terms and conditions apply). The fastest gamers in each participating territory will qualify for their place at their territory’s Race Camp. A number of competitors will also gain access via a series of Live Gran Turismo® events organised locally.
At Race Camp competitors are put through their paces on track and in a series of challenges in Nissan sports cars under the watchful eyes of high profile judges and mentors. One winner from each competition will be invited to take part in the intensive Driver Development Programme. They could qualify for an international race license and race for Nissan in 2016, before potentially joining Nissan’s elite NISMO Athlete group of racers.
Previous winners of GT Academy are now regular racing drivers. In 2015, Jann Mardenborough (UK, winner in 2011) and Lucas Ordoñez (Spain, winner in 2008) will represent Nissan in its new LMP1 factory assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours. Jann will also be racing single-seaters in GP3, a feeder series to Formula One, while Lucas is racing in the Super GT500 Championship in Japan. GT Academy winners will also be present in the World Endurance Championship and Blancpain Endurance Series.
Since its inception, GT Academy has attracted well over 5 million entrants worldwide. GT Academy winners have recorded two Le Mans 24 Hour podiums as well as 90 further podiums in international racing and over 22 race wins.
News and views on GT Academy 2015 and the progress of all the GT Academy drivers can be followed on various platforms including: www.facebook.com/GTAcademy | www.twitter.com/GTAcademy | www.nismo.tv |www.flickr.com/photos/gtacademyeurope.
About the Gran Turismo® Franchise
Gran Turismo® celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2013, having first appeared internationally in 1998. The multi-award-winning franchise has been the most successful ever for PlayStation®, and in 2013 it also surpassed worldwide sales of 70 million units. Various iterations of Gran Turismo® have been created for PlayStation® , PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 and PSP (PlayStation® Portable), and have always been regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulators ever created due to true-to-life graphics, authentic physics technology and design. Since the inception of Gran Turismo®, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital Inc. in Japan have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the most realistic driving simulation in the industry and a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products. Gran Turismo®6, the latest iteration of the game, was released on 6 December, 2013.
About Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), based in London, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and sales of PlayStation®4 (PS4®) computer entertainment system, PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita) portable entertainment system, PlayStation®3 (PS3®) computer entertainment system, PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) handheld entertainment system and PSN software and hardware in 109 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania. SCEE has revolutionised home entertainment since they launched PlayStation® in 1994. PlayStation®4 redefines rich and immersive gameplay with powerful graphics and speed, intelligent personalisation and deeply integrated social capabilities. PS Vita is an ultimate portable entertainment system that offers a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context. PS3® is an advanced computer system, incorporating the powerful Cell Broadband Engine and RSX processors. PSP® is a handheld entertainment system that allows users to enjoy 3D games with high-quality full-motion video and high-fidelity stereo audio. SCEE also delivers the PlayStation® experience to open operating systems through PlayStation®Mobile, a cross device platform. SCEE also develops, publishes, markets and distributes entertainment software for these formats, and manages the third party licensing programs for the formats in these territories.
More information about PlayStation® products can be found at www.playstation.com.
PlayStation®, PS4, PS3, PS2 and PSP are registered trademarks or trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
About Nissan in Europe
Nissan has one of the most comprehensive European presences of any overseas manufacturer, employing more than 17,600 staff across locally-based design, research & development, manufacturing, logistics and sales & marketing operations. Last financial year Nissan plants in the UK, Spain and Russia produced more than 675,000 vehicles including award-winning crossovers, small cars, SUVs, commercial vehicles and electric vehicles, including the Nissan LEAF, the world’s most popular electric vehicle with 96% of customers willing to recommend the car to friends. Nissan now offers a strong line-up of 23 diverse and innovative models in Europe under the Nissan and Datsun brands.