Spa 24H: Nissan GT Academy preview

PlayStation(R) Nissan ace Lucas Ordonez to compete at Spa 24 Hours Spa, Belgium, Thursday 29 July 2010 - Lucas Ordonez, the 25 year-old Spanish driver that entered motorsport via PlayStation(R) and Nissan's GT Academy, faces the toughest ...

PlayStation(R) Nissan ace Lucas Ordonez to compete at Spa 24 Hours

Spa, Belgium, Thursday 29 July 2010 - Lucas Ordonez, the 25 year-old Spanish driver that entered motorsport via PlayStation(R) and Nissan's GT Academy, faces the toughest challenge of his racing career at this weekend's notorious Spa 24 Hours. Lucas will line-up alongside experienced British drivers Chris and Alex Buncombe, and Rob Barff in the Polyphony Digital and PlayStation backed Nissan 370Z GT4 car, run by RJN Motorsport.

Ordonez was the winner of the first GT Academy competition in 2008. His prize was to compete in the Dubai International 24 Hour Race alongside Johnny Herbert. A full-season drive in the 2009 European GT4 Cup followed. Racing alongside Alex Buncombe, the pair finished a close second in the drivers' championship, and helped secure the team's title.

Having unearthed a new driving talent through the GT Academy, Nissan alongside its partners Polyphony Digital (maker of the award-winning Gran Turismo series) and PlayStation have devised a programme this year to help nurture Lucas' talent further as he takes the next step towards a full-time career in motorsport.

After his successful debut season, the decision was taken to enter Lucas for a further full season, this time racing solo, in the 2010 European GT4 Cup. With experience of long race distances likely to benefit his future career path, Nissan has also now given Lucas the opportunity to drive at the famous Spa 24 Hours. Renowned as a drivers' circuit, and with the added challenge of the speed differentials with the other classes, Spa is a true test of any GT driver.

The Spa 24 Hours features GT2, GT3 and GT4 cars. It will be in the GT4 class that Nissan and Lucas will measure themselves against old foes from the GT4 Cup - Porsche and Aston Martin. This class for production-based cars is a stern test of the reliability of the mainly standard components over a grueling 24 hour period on one of the world's toughest circuits.

GT Academy champion Lucas Ordonez said: "Three years ago I was at home racing on the PlayStation. I'm now a racing driver thanks to PlayStation and Nissan. Alongside Dubai, this is the most important race of my life. The Spa 24 Hours has such a great history, so to be competing here for the Nissan PlayStation team will be amazing. We have a fantastic line-up of drivers that will include Alex, Chris, Rob and me, so I think we will be fast every time we are in the car and we have a really good chance to do well."

The 2010 programme for Lucas shows that GT Academy is not just a successful TV show, but a real attempt by PlayStation and Nissan to find a top flight GT driver of the future. The Spa 24 Hours will see Lucas being benchmarked against three recognised strong, young GT racers who all have different skills.

His 2009 team mate Alex Buncombe is renowned for his speed. Alex's brother Chris is a long-distance specialist and ex-Le Mans 24 Hour class winner who has recently been involved in the Aston Martin LMP1 project. He is well known to the Nissan team having competed for them at the Spa 24 Hours previously. Rob Barff is a smooth and rapid driver who will be able to continue to develop the 370Z, and Lucas, throughout the weekend. Barff will draw on his day job as race instructor and test driver for various programmes. He was also the lead instructor for the GT Academy programme.

Nissan's European head of sports cars Darren Cox said: "Lucas has the perfect platform this weekend to show the GT world that he is a REAL race driver that just happens to have started by driving on the Gran Turismo game. With the GT1 World Championship sharing the billing with the '24 Hours' there will be plenty of well-connected spectators looking at his progress. From Nissan's point of view, we want to see how fast Lucas can go whilst driving 'slowly'. In other words, can he maintain his undoubted pace whilst looking after his car for 24 hours? He has three great team mates who will help him and be a great measure for him."

Mark Bowles, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's PS3 Brand Manager said: "In the 2010 GT4 European Cup, Lucas has mirrored, in real life, the speed he originally displayed on Gran Turismo on the PS3™. The Spa 24 Hours is yet another challenge for him and, as usual, the Polyphony Digital and PlayStation teams will be watching the next chapter in the 'sofa to race track' story with great interest."

-source: nissan gt academy

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Series Endurance
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Rob Barff , Alex Buncombe , Lucas Ordonez