UK National Final results of GT Academy

Cook, Gordon and Perry take gold in the race for adrenalin-fuelled driving prize Trio of country’s top gamers take next step to full racing career

On Friday 1 August, visitors to this year’s British International Motor Show cheered on 20 of the country’s fastest and most talented PlayStation® racers, who were battling it out at the tense showdown for the ultimate driving prize - a factory supported entry into the 2009 Dubai International 24 Hour Endurance Race driving a Nissan 350Z.

 The UK National Final of the PlayStation® and Nissan GT Academy competition – hosted by Sky  Sport’s  presenter  Georgie  Thompson  –  saw  Matthew  Gordon,  John  Cook  and  Mark Perry  take  top  honours  in  a  nail-biting  competition  taking  place  on  the  formidable  Gran Turismo  5  Prologue™  game  for  PlayStation  3.  The  Semi  Finals  of  the  UK  Final  saw  the contestants  go  head-to-head,  racing  the  Nissan  GT-R  on  Japan’s  technically  demanding Suzuka Formula 1 circuit. The  three  top  gamers  may  have  beaten  their  national  rivals,  but  the  next  stage  of  the innovative competition looks set to test their talents even further.

The trio will now face up to the   other   national  finalists  from   France,  Italy,   Germany,   Austria,   Spain,   Netherlands, Denmark,  Finland,  Norway  and  Sweden,  at  an  uncompromising  four-day  training  camp  at Silverstone Circuit, the epicentre of British motorsport. As  well  as  driving  the  real  Nissan  GT-R  on-track  during  this  training  event,  all  of  the  GT Academy  finalists  will  be  under  constant  evaluation  by  a  panel  of  motorsport  and  media experts  to  see  just  how  effectively  they  can  make  the  transition  from  the  virtual  world  of gaming to the white-knuckle reality of endurance racing.

The  judges  will  then  pick  the  two  finalists  who  face  the  ultimate  challenge  –  during  an intense four-month driver programme the pair will be physically and mentally prepped for a Nissan  factory-supported  drive  in  a  race-ready  350Z  in  the  Dubai  International  24  Hour Endurance Race in January 2009!

 “This is brilliant – I feel absolutely ecstatic!” said national finalist John Cook. The 24-year old freelance web designer said his win was the culmination of all his gaming hopes. “I’ve been a fan of GT since it first came out, and this is a real dream come true. I think the accuracy and detail of the game will be my greatest ally when I take to the track for the first time. I know the challenge that lies ahead of me and I’m confident I can do this!” David  Wilson,  Sony  Computer  Entertainment’s  head  of  UK  public  relations  was  deeply impressed by the commitment and intensity of the gamers.

“We brought all the finalists down to London the night before the event and it was immediately apparent from their first meeting that there was a very competitive streak running through these young men,” he said. “Now  we  move  onto  Silverstone  and  a  baptism  of  fire  awaits  these  three  winners. 

The judges will be looking at their mental attitude, how they present themselves, as well as their outright driving skills as they mix it with the other European finalists. I really hope our boys shine through!” John Parslow, Brand Manager for Nissan Sportscars was delighted with the winners’ skills.

 “I don't see why these top players shouldn’t be able to transfer their on-screen skills to the track. It’s going to be fascinating to see who can most effectively adapt to the speed, noise and rush of the track – and who can handle the pressure of being in the public eye twenty- four-seven.” Sky  Sports  Presenter  Georgie  Thompson,  who  compered  the  finals, 

“I’ve  chatted  to  the three winners and my word, they are all so determined. They have a real point to prove – they  are  desperate  to  show  they  can  transfer  their  PlayStation  skills  onto  the  track  at Silverstone for a chance to go on all the way to compete against some the best drivers in the world taking part in the Dubai International 24 Hour Endurance Race!” my best.”