Who says gaming can’t teach you anything these days? That’s certainly not the case with the folks over at the GT Academy, as that driving institution has produced some outstanding talent since its inception a few years ago. Taking the cream of the crop from the Gran Turismo 5 community, the GT Academy has seen graduates go on to race in big events such as Le Mans and the Dubai 24 hour challenge. A few of them have even popped up in the British GT. Except they’re not allowed to race anymore. Because they’re just too damn fast. In a sport that is all about being the quickest.
Over at the British GT3, winning GT academy drivers from 2012 have had their applications to race again this year in that series, rejected. 2011 GTA winner Jann Mardenborough, racing in the Pro-Am class with pro driver Alex Buncombe in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 came pretty close to clinching the championship last year, even though the young driver had very little experience in that field.
It just goes to show just how talented the racers are that graduate from that academy, but Mardenborough and his colleagues won’t get that chance to prove their skills this year again. Despite boasting speeds and lap records that are embarrasing to the pro drivers on that circuit, the fact that they haven’t clocked in enough hours to become experienced enough on the track has left them out in the cold. Loop-holing them out entirely, British GT Championship series manager Benjamin Franassovici said to Left Lane News that the Nissan GT Academy had found some “amazing raw talent”, but that the inexperience of the drivers put them at the lowest performance grade overall.
We cannot accept their full season entry for British GT in 2013… Their talent, going on Jann’s speed last year, doesn’t reflect this lack of experience so it is not fair to put them up against our Pro/Gentleman grid, the basis of British GT3.
So it’s a catch 22 for the foursome. Not enough experience for them to be taken as professionals, but too quick on the track to classed as amateur racers. And it’s complete and utter baldercrap. These are people who have dedicated their lives on becoming race car drivers, having one through a racing academy with 2 million entrants and rising above them all, receiving some incredible education in the process.
And they’re being side-lined for the fact that their training and skill puts them in a class bracket that is far ahead of the older generation of drivers on the track. Wolfgang Reip, Mark Shulzhitskiy, Peter Pyzera and Steve Doherty are all winners of the GT Academy across various nations and continents, having been trained further in an intensive driver development program to unlock their potential. And remember, if you reckon that you have what it takes to upset some older racers, there is also a Nissan GT Academy presence here in South Africa.
Fortunately, while they may have been harumphed out of the British GT series, other opportunities await them. Nissan’s global motorsports director Darren Cox has confirmed that the graduates will attend other races in 2013 instead.
Big thanks to Morne Lithe for the tip.