2015 GT ACADEMY WINNER MATT SIMMONS TO RACE IN 2016 BLANCPAIN ENDURANCE SERIES
Matt Simmons to race full-time in the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series in Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3
Australia’s first Nissan PlayStation GT Academy winner has truly fulfilled program’s promise of ‘gamer to racer’ with his own ‘postie to pro’ story
Nissan GT Academy Team RJN to skip 2016 Dubai 24 Hours to focus on Blancpain Endurance Series preparation
VIDEO: Matt Simmons journey from ‘gamer to racer’ – including the moment he is told about his 2016 racing deal https://youtu.be/0AQWcgE-gvM
VIDEO: 2015 Champion Alex Buncombe explains ‘What is Blancpain Endurance Series’ https://youtu.be/evON_4qByaM
SYDNEY, Australia (4 December 2015) – Australian Matt Simmons will race in the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2016 with defending series champions Nissan GT Academy Team RJN and the all-conquering Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
Simmons, winner of the 2015 Nissan GT Academy International competition, will race in the world’s most competitive GT sportscar championship next year, transforming from a Gran Turismo gamer and Australia Post courier van driver in 2015 to a NISMO Athlete in 2016.
Simmons, from Brisbane, Queensland, became the first Australian GT Academy winner when he won the International Race Camp at the Silverstone circuit in August. From there, he was based in the United Kingdom for three months undertaking the intensive Nissan Driver Development Program (DDP).
The progress, skill and dedication shown by Simmons throughout the program has led to Nissan and NISMO to commit to Simmons’ 2016 program early. With his full-time program already locked in, Simmons and Nissan GT Academy Team RJN will skip the 2016 Dubai 24 Hours in January to focus on preparations for the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series.
As part of Simmons’ progression through the Nissan Driver Development program, he has already tested the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 at the Snetterton and Donington Park circuits.
Nissan GT Academy Team RJN and the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 have successful history in the Blancpain Endurance Series, winning the Pro Class title with Katsumasa Chiyo, Alex Buncombe and 2012 GT Academy Europe winner Wolfgang Reip in 2015, as well as the Pro-Am Class title in 2013 with inaugural (2008) GT Academy winner Lucas Ordonez.
Simmons’ team-mates will be confirmed at later date.
Matt Simmons – 2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy International winner:
“I can’t believe how much my life has changed since winning at GT Academy Race Camp in August,” said Simmons.
“I’ve always dreamed of being a racing driver, even racing a Nissan GT-R, but nothing could have prepared me for that moment when I was told I’d be racing a GT-R NISMO GT3 in the Blancpain Endurance Series next year.
“Six months ago I was driving an Australia Post courier van in Brisbane. Even then, I knew my only chance of achieving my racing dream was via GT Academy, so I gave it everything I had.
“Winning was in some ways just the start of the journey. Once the Driver Development Program begins, you spend three months developing all the elements required to complete the ‘gamer to racer’ journey.
“What blew me away the most about the Driver Development Program in the UK was the resources, support and expertise on offer. I literally had a team of experts working with me every day for around three months on driving, simulator testing, fitness, diet and sports psychology.
“I’m determined to repay the faith that everyone has shown in me by making the most of every day and every opportunity that I get. I have to keep working hard and improving to ensure I represent the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy program and Australia in the best possible way.”
Richard Emery – Managing Director and CEO, Nissan Motor Co. (Australia)
“Australia has a new driver to cheer for in international motorsport, but it is surreal to think that earlier this year he was an Australia Post courier van driver by day and a PlayStation gamer by night,” said Emery.
“While Matt’s pathway may be different, he has truly earned his place. Matt has displayed great dedication, skill and maturity since winning the GT Academy International Race Camp in August. It is that effort and application that has allowed the program to lock in his 2016 program early.
“His progress has given everyone confidence that he will continue to improve and work hard as he prepares to compete in the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2016 in a 550-horsepower Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
“Matt has transitioned from ‘postie to pro’ in roughly six months. It is amazing to think that he has gone from driving a GT-R on Gran Turismo to racing one in real life in such a short space of time.
“But once you see the efforts of both Matt and those involved in the Driver Development Program, you can see why GT Academy has produced such a long and successful list of graduates.
“Everyone at Nissan Australia is extremely proud of Matt’s efforts and we will be right behind him every step of the way.”
Follow Matt’s Day-By-Day Progress
2016 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
Pre-Season Test – Paul Ricard (France) 8-10 March 2016
Round 1 - Monza (Italy) 23-24 April 2016
Round 2 – Silverstone (UK) 14-15 May 2016
Round 3 – Paul Ricard (France) 24-25 June 2016
Official Test Day – Spa Franchorchamps (Belgium) 5 July 2016
Round 4 – 24 Hours of Spa Franchorchamps (Belgium) 28-31 July 2016
Round 5 – Nurburgring (Germany) 17-18 September 2016
About Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy 2015
GT Academy is a collaboration between PlayStation® and Nissan that uses the virtual world of the Gran Turismo®6 game to unearth real-world racing talent. Now in its seventh year, GT Academy includes separate competitions for Europe (France, Italy, UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic), International group (Australia, Mexico, North Africa, Turkey and United States) and Asia (India, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Japan).
The GT Academy qualification round will be part of a free Gran Turismo®6 update on PlayStation®3 (terms and conditions apply). The fastest gamers in each participating territory gain access to their region’s
National Final event. A number of competitors can also gain access via a series of live Gran Turismo events organised locally. The National Finals add driving, fitness and a media element to the gaming.
From National Finals, the action moves onto the legendary Race Camp, where the competitors are put through their paces on track in Nissan sports cars under the watchful eyes of high profile judges and mentors. Winners from each competition will be invited to take part in the intensive Driver Development Programme. They could qualify for an international race license and race for Nissan professionally, with the chance to potentially join Nissan’s elite NISMO Athletes.
Previous winners of GT Academy are now regular racing drivers. In 2015, Jann Mardenborough (UK, winner in 2011) is racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship for Nissan in the top LM P1 category and in GP3, a feeder series to Formula One, with the championship-winning Carlin team. Lucas Ordoñez (Spain, winner in 2008) raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours this year in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 entry, alongside Mardenborough. The 2014 Champions, Gaetan Paletou (Europe) and Ricardo Sanchez (International) are competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series with the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN.
Australia saw the skill of GT Academy winners first hand when Wolfgang Reip (2012 GT Academy Europe winner) and Florian Strauss (2013 GT Academy Germany winner) teamed with Japanese driver Katsumasa Chiyo to win the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour driving for the NISMO Athlete Global Team in a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
News and views on GT Academy 2015 and the progress of all the GT Academy drivers can be followed on various platforms including: www.facebook.com/GTAcademy | www.twitter.com/GTAcademy | www.youtube.com/gtacademyeurope | www.flickr.com/photos/gtacademyeurope.
About Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan’s second-largest automotive company, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, and is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 244,500 employees globally, Nissan sold 5.32 million vehicles and generated revenue of 11.38 trillion yen (USD 103.6 billion) in fiscal 2014. Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of more than 60 models under the Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun brands. Nissan leads the world in zero-emission mobility, dominated by sales of the LEAF, the first mass-market, pure-electric vehicle. It is the best-selling EV in history with almost 50% share of the zero-emission vehicle segment.
For more information on our products, services and commitment to sustainable mobility, visit our website at http://www.nissan-global.com/EN
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