Text: Eric Tipan / Photos: | posted February 17, 2014 07:52
All the hours playing Gran Turismo pays off for first-ever academy winner Lucas OrdÃ³Ã±ez
After winning the Nissan Playstation GT Academy in 2008 and then conquering the track by securing a podium finish in his very first event, Lucas Ordóñez has shown consistency by placing in the top five of the races he has participated in.
Now he gets a bigger role with Nissan as he parters with Kazuki Hoshino in the NDDP Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the GT300 class and he will also race Nissan's revolutionary ZEOD RC prototype at Le Mans in June.
"To race in Japanese Super GT has been one of my goals since I started my racing career. It's a fully professional championship with official works teams competing so I will have a great chance to fight at the highest level and prove to everyone why I got this seat. The GT300 class will be very tough but we will push 100% to win the championship," said Ordóñez.
"Last year I had the opportunity to do two races in Japan at two of the most important race tracks there," he continued. "I found that there is no room for any distractions or mistakes out there on the track. Everything is extremely professional, and the tire manufacturer battle means that track conditions are really tricky at any time. One of the things I enjoyed the most, apart from driving, was the quality of the fans. They are amazing and treat us all like heroes. It's great to see so many of them turn out to support us during the race weekends," added Ordóñez.
The performance and success of Ordóñez shows that with innate skills combined with proper training and dedication, playing Gran Turismo on the way to the GT Academy works can result in a successful motorsports carer.
All GT Academy winners who, like Ordóñez, make the cut are eligible to join the NISMO Global Driver Exchange, which will allow them to race all over the world.
To show the success of the Nissan GT Academy and the international exposure the winners get from it, Japanese racer Katsumasa Chiyo will race full-time in Europe with the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-Rs in the Blancpain Endurance Series joining 2013 GT Academy winners Miguel Faisca, Stanislav Aksenov, Nick McMillen, and Florian Strauss. The full line-ups tasked with defending Nissan's 2013 Blancpain Pro-Am title will be announced soon.
"It's a proud moment for me to see Lucas, our first GT Academy winner, make the grade and head off to Japan to race in Super GT. To have a GT Academy winner race at the home of Gran Turismo in Japan is a fantastic achievement and, as Lucas found when he raced in Japan last year, the local fans love his story. He is a great example of what GT Academy is all about: Take raw talent, nurture it, challenge it and watch it shine. I am also very pleased at the success on track and the response from the fans for our innovative NISMO Exchange program. So far we have had 12 nationalities take part in races on four continents. The expansion to full year exchanges underlines the way the idea has caught on and is only one of many plans we have in 2014 and beyond to continue to globalize our motorsport activities," said Nissan's Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox.