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.”