Nissan’s GT Academy has been a stage for amateur racing enthusiasts to display their driving skills in an attempt to earn a seat in a professional race car for one of the many different racing sanctions across the world, and has also been a huge success as drivers are picked from the skills displayed while playing top video game Gran Turismo for PlayStation.
While attending the GT Academy, Nissan chooses the top drivers to pit them with a well-respected racing team, thus beginning the racing career these excited enthusiasts have always dreamed of. However, when a championship trophy was up for grabs in the 2012 British GT Championship between a professional driver, Alex Buncombe, and an amateur enthusiast & 2012 GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough, Mardenborough was penalized for driving “too fast” around the circuit and for lacking the overall driving experience as the professional drivers possessed. To make matters worse, the presiding body of the British GT Championship is now refusing to accept GT Academy graduates into their series for the 2013 season.
Said British GT Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici, “I have a lot of admiration for GT Academy. It has shown itself to be a great way to source raw talent and turn that into real racing talent as we saw in British GT last year with Jann Mardenborough. However Nissan’s ability to find such amazing raw talent means that we cannot accept their full season entry for British GT in 2013. Their new recruits have very little racing experience so they have to be on the lowest performance grade. 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. Hats off to Nissan though and I should point out that there are no closed doors here.”
So what now for the drivers who successfully complete the Nissan GT Academy? For now, we’re not sure if there will be a place for future drivers in the top racing sanctions, but what a major blow to an avenue that could have been something very beneficial for all parties. Allowing those less fortunate to gain experience behind the wheel of professional race cars & earning a spot in a racing series is something enthusiasts can only dream of. Hopefully, the guys at Nissan can find an alternative to combat the loopholes that restrict amateurs from becoming professional drivers after completing a very instructional institution…
Source: T.E.K. Automotive Media