The 2014 NISMO GT Academy European Race Camp drew to a conclusion at the Silverstone circuit as Gaëtan Paletou, from Barzun in France, was crowned champion. His prize for taking first place is that he will now go on to enjoy four months in one of the most advanced and successful driver development programs in the world before racing for the Nissan NISMO race team in the international Dubai 24 Hour race in January 2015.
Gaëtan Paletou is following in the footsteps of the likes of Lucas Ordoñez (now racing in Japanese Super GT) and Jann Mardenborough (a racer-winner this year in the highly-competitive GP3 Formula 1 feeder series).
Gaëtan won his place at Race Camp from the hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo gamers that entered the competition across Europe. Having won through National Finals, he arrived at Silverstone as one of six to represent France, alongside 41 European competitors overall, representing 12 countries split into seven territory groups.
Over the course of eight days, the competitors were put through their paces both on and off track. They enjoyed some of the best racing instruction and mentoring in the world in a range of Nissan cars, including the GT-R, the 370Z Nismo and 370Z race cars.
After some heated judges’ deliberations, it fell to long-term GT Academy head judge, and ex-Formula One racer, Johnny Herbert to announce the winner on the Silverstone Grand Prix podium with Gran Turismo creator and President of Polyphony Digital Inc. Kazunori Yamauchi and NISMO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales Darren Cox on hand to present the trophies.
“It’s incredible.” said an extremely happy Gaëtan. “I was so happy that I won the race, but I didn’t know that I would win GT Academy. It is very special for me and my friends who have supported me. This has been a very good experience – a long, hard week and very tight competition so I am so happy to win. Now I have to keep pushing to the next step.”
Kazunori Yamauchi, who founded the competition with Nissan in 2008 said. “I have been very impressed by this year’s European Race Camp and the standard already achieved by the Gran Turismo gamers. It feels like we now hand over our gamer into the safe hands of Nissan who will continue his development as a real racing driver. This is a unique and special partnership, and I am very proud of what we have achieved together. It was great to meet so many Gran Turismo fans at Race Camp. I send all of them my congratulations and I know that they can all draw on the experience of GT Academy to achieve their goals in life. Special congratulations go to Gaëtan for his impressive victory.”