Nissan GT Academy 2014 Winners – Battling at 24 Hours Dubai Race
Before you wonder about all technology and the workings behind the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 specifically prepped for grueling Dubai 24 Hours race. I would like to impart a little story about imagination and passion, about immersed in virtual reality and then sweating the seat-of-the pants experience in nerve wrecking reality in real time race event. What started from a boyhood dream of driving at the extreme limits in racing Gran Turismo on PlayStation, Nissan Motors turn these boys into real life heroes.
Seeing the tide turning, Nissan officially initiated The GT Academy program in 2008. A global platform to for discovering driver and skill development program in collaboration between Gran Turismo (Sony Play Station/ Polyphony Digital games) and Nissan. Online qualifiers are held within Gran Turismo, and the top qualifiers are invited to the National Finals in each participating country. Those who pass this final will then participate in a Race Camp held at Silverstone, UK, for the final selection. The final winner will then undergo an intensive Driver Development Program designed by Nissan, and will participate in races around the world as a professional driver.
Here in Dubai, Nissan GT Academy 2014 winners enter 24 hours Dubai race for the first time. This time Nissan GT Academy 2014 stars from Middle East, USA, Pan Europe and Pan International to race GT-R NISMO GT3. Ahmed Khalid, winner of GT Academy Middle East 2014, will be making his race debut in Dubai, completing his journey from living room gamer to real-life racer when he gets behind the wheel of the GT-R NISMO GT3 as part of the Nissan team. The full line-up includes other regional winners of GT Academy 2014 – Nicolas Hammann from USA, Gaetan Paletou from Pan Europe and Ricardo Sanchez from Pan International, as well as by Florian Strauss, winner of GT Academy Germany 2013.
The Local Hero: Ahmed Khalid
For the next 24 hours all eyes will be on Ahmed Khalid. A fine, smiley humble chap who took me out on track drive at the Dubai Autodrome in a road version of Nissan GT-R Nismo and shows his honed skills tracing the racing line, clipping the apex. “It has been always my dream to become a racing driver, and thanks to the Nissan GT Academy Challenge I’ll be behind the wheel with the Nissan team in the 24 Hours of Dubai. As my first international race, I want to put in a big one for the team. The whole experience, from the sofa in the living room playing games to the international finals at Silverstone to lining up on the grid in the great race in Dubai is life-changing for me” says Khalid.
Ahmed, agreed that in reality there’s no reset button. There’s no pause to check the status update on Facebook! And Nissan is aware of the fact. Hence, Over a six-day period competitors received intense and in-depth instruction on all aspects of motor racing. Vehicles they were exposed to included three of the finest, the GT-R, 370Z NISMO and 370Z.
“There is so much more than simply getting behind the wheel and driving fast. There’s fitness, mental toughness and self-belief, diet, knowledge of the technology that makes up the vehicles and much more. What takes place off the track is as important as what happens on it,” says Martin Poole, one of the coaches.