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September 3, 2008

GT Academy Names Winning Drivers
A taxi driver and a student prepare to join the Nissan racing team at the Dubai 24hr endurance race – thanks to Nissan and PlayStation

03 September 2008: GT Academy, an international driving competition from PlayStation® and Nissan, has found its winners following a gruelling, week-long international final at iconic British racetrack Silverstone. 28-year old Lars Schlömer, from Germany and 23-year old Lucas Ordoňez from Spain beat 20 other competitors from across Europe to be crowned the GT Academy champions. The pair now face a four-month intensive training programme with Nissan's race team to earn their racing license and compete in the ultimate test of driving skill and stamina: the Dubai 24hr endurance race in January 2009.

NISSAN GT academy logo

Winning the GT Academy will be life-changing for both competitors. Lars Schlömer, a taxi driver from Bonn and Lucas Ordoňez, an MBA student, will both put their lives on hold to become part of the Nissan race team. Both winners have harboured lifelong dreams to become racing drivers.

During the five-day GT Academy at Silverstone the 22 competitors faced a series of rigorous tests to prove they had the physical and mental ability as well as the driving skills to become a real race car driver. The boot camp-style competition ran under the watchful eye of a panel of five judges who followed the competitors' every move. Racing legend Johnny Herbert acted as a mentor to the competitors and assisted the judges in making their final decision.

Speaking of his win, Lucas Ordoňez said: "I can't believe it. This is a dream come true. I knew this would be difficult and I did not expect to win, but I just took each day as it came and tried to push to my maximum."

Lars Schlömer said: "I have wanted this for the last ten years of my life but I just never had the chance. This is amazing. I truly would have been heartbroken if I hadn't won. I would not have entered this competition if I did not believe I could win because coming to Silverstone and not winning would have been like giving a dog a bone and then taking it away again!"

Last night, racing legend Johnny Herbert commented: "This competition has far exceeded my expectations. I have often thought that somewhere out there is someone who is better than a Lewis, Kimi or Felipe but they just haven't had the chance to drive. Looking at the 22 GT Academy finalists for the first time, I was sure that we would have a few with absolutely no feeling who wouldn't make it out of second gear but we didn't have one. Nobody disgraced themselves and they were doing stuff they have never done before. Today would have been their first time ever driving on a track in the wet and it was very impressive."

Darren Cox, European Interactive Marketing Manager for Nissan Europe, said: Three years ago we went to PlayStation with a simple question – could we turn a virtual racer into a real racer? We set out to try something that had never been attempted before but always believed we would unearth a talent like we just have. Of course, it is not over yet and these guys have a lot of work to do before they race the 350z in Dubai. But our incredible team of instructors and judges – including Johnny Herbert - are totally convinced that these two have what it takes."

Mark Bowles, Gran Turismo Brand Manager from PlayStation commented: "The GT Academy has changed two Gran Turismo fans' lives. Throughout the competition they proved themselves to be the best drivers on and off the track and we are delighted to have found such talent through the competition. GT is the ultimate driving simulator and GT Academy has proven just that."

Running over eight months, GT Academy is an international driving competition that captures the spirit and ethos of both Nissan and PlayStation brands and unites the worlds of videogames and motorsport through ultra-realistic competition. GT Academy received twenty five thousand entrants across 12 European countries for the first stage of the competition on PLAYSTATION®Network to record their fastest online lap in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue™ for PLAYSTATION®3. From these 25,000 entrants the two fastest from each country went to the international final – the GT Academy at Silverstone - where 22 competitors battled it out for the two racing contracts. To find out more, visit www.gtacademy.eu.

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