Published on August 13th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Matthew Simmons crowned GT Academy International Champion
Matthew Simmons from Australia made his motorsport dreams come true at Silverstone today after being named the 2015 Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy International champion. The 26-year-old fought off competition from 29 other elite Gran Turismo® gamers from around the world to seal his success, winning a place on the Nissan Driver Development Program and a race seat in the 2016 Dubai 24 Hours. The decision came after an epic week-long Race Camp, with Simmons chosen as the winner for his consistent pace throughout and willingness to learn and develop his driving.
Race Camp came to an end with a thrilling eight-lap race around Silverstone’s National Circuit in Nissan 370Z NISMO race cars. Simmons, starting from pole position, initially lost the lead to Ryan Lynch of the U.S. but quickly reclaimed the position. After Lynch fell away, Hüseyin Dagli of Turkey became the main challenger for the lead, and the pair swapped positions down the Wellington Straight for three consecutive laps with some brilliant wheel-to-wheel racing. Unfortunately as he was fending off Dagli on lap five, his car encountered a mechanical problem and lost power, allowing the Turkish driver to pass as well as Mexican finalist Juan Carlos Carmona-Chavez. However the judges took into account Simmons setting the fastest lap when the car was healthy as well as his early race pace, which showed application of his consistent performances across all challenges throughout the week in a high-pressure race environment.
Simmons earned his place at Race Camp from the hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo gamers that entered the competition from across the world. Having won through the Australia National Final, he arrived at Silverstone as one of six to represent Australia, alongside 29 International competitors overall, representing seven countries 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 last Friday, with six finalists from Australia, the U.S., Mexico, North Africa and Turkey comprising a 30-strong line-up. Throughout their week at International Race Camp, a series of both racing and physical challenges whittled them down to a final 10 this morning that were still in contention of being GT Academy International champion. Each judge then had to decide between their two best drivers who would take the wheel of the 370Z NISMO race cars for an eight-lap race of Silverstone’s national 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, monster trucks and a Nissan Micra stock car race which decided the starting grid for today’s final race.
Simmons’ 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.