The 2015 NISMO PlayStation® GT Academy European Race Camp drew to a spectacular close yesterday under the floodlights of Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. Atop of the podium stood a proud and delighted French Gran Turismo® gamer coming to terms with the life-changing opportunity he has just won.
Romain Sarazin, a 22-year-old economics and management student from Meyzieu near Lyon, beat a field of 56 gamers from 11 countries who travelled to Abu Dhabi for Race Camp. Having performed well all week, Romain was the clear choice of French mentor and NISMO LMP1 driver Olivier Pla to take the wheel of the Nissan 370Z race car for the six-lap, title deciding final race. He didn’t put a wheel wrong in the ultra-competitive battle and took victory, the fastest lap, and the title of GT Academy Europe Winner 2015.
“I’m really thrilled,” exclaimed Romain. “I knew I had to get a good start because it’s difficult to overtake. After I got past Ben (UK territory winner) in the first corner I just had to keep cool and build a gap. I saw the others fighting behind me, and it made it easier for me to get away. This is a huge achievement and will completely change my life. I’m lucky enough to now have a chance to live my dream, and I can’t wait to get started!”
Throughout this year’s GT Academy, Nissan and PlayStation have sent out the message ‘#RacingDriverWanted’. At Race Camp in Abu Dhabi it was ‘racing driver found’! Romain will now embark on GT Academy’s comprehensive Driver Development Programme with the clear objective of joining the ranks of NISMO Athletes to travel the world as an international racing driver.
“I was very impressed with that race, considering that the guys haven’t raced before,” commented Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey. “There was no contact at all. Once they were away it was a very tight race. Romain did well to open up a gap and utilise the space while the cars behind slowed each other down. He controlled the gap very well, which I enjoyed.
“It has been a fascinating experience to come here and see GT Academy in action. I can see that this programme will become an increasingly important route into motor sport for young people to chase their dream, as the costs of the traditional karting and Formula-racing route continue to escalate. It’s a great shame that there can only be one winner.”
Race Camp in Abu Dhabi has been an incredible experience for the gamers. Some tough challenges awaited them in the 40°- plus heat, but they also had the opportunity to experience the glamour and lifestyle of an international racing driver. Staying in the Viceroy Hotel, that straddles Yas Marina’s impressive Formula 1 circuit, the competitors enjoyed some incredible experiences. Racing Nissan GT-R’s on the ‘bridge to nowhere’, Nissan 370Zs on the circuit and Yas’s drag strip, and racing dune buggies in the sand were some of the racing highlights; while a night under canvas in the middle of the spectacular desert will live long in the memory of the competitors.