GT Academy has taken gamers and turned them into racing drivers who’ve competed all around the world, and now GT Academy is back in Australia. Want to go from gamer to real-life racer?

Simulators have been used for decades to train people in any skill that’s expensive or high risk in real life, most notably pilots of both military and civilian aircraft.  

Today, top race outfits such as Formula 1 teams also rely on simulators to develop their cars, and drivers use them to learn tracks and even the car. But those simulators cost millions of dollars, a far cry from a simple Playstation or Xbox, a big-screen TV, a plastic race wheel and a camp chair. Can those cheap, simple sims be of any use at all in real life?

Well, the answer appears to be yes. The last few years have seen Nissan run the GT Academy with Playstation’s well-regarded Gran Turismo simulator.  The Academy starts with set a series of online time-trials open to all comers from elgible countries – it’s very simple, how fast can you drive a virtual car around a virtual racetrack.  
The quickest set of drivers from each country go to national qualifiers, and the best from that are are sent on an all-expenses paid trip to a tough evaluation camp where they get to drive real cars on real tracks, and their other skills such as ability to handle media, technical knowledge, fitness and teamwork are assessed by motorsports professionals. The overall, international winner gets a gig as a full-time race driver.
So far, the results have been impressive, with the winners – who previously had next to no live racetrack experience – immediately being competitive with the professionals who have made it the conventional way, usually by racing karts shortly after they were born.   Most recently, Academy graduates Wolfgang Reip and Florian Straus won at Bathurst in 2015, a first for Nissan since the glory days of Godzilla in the early ’90s.
So yes, there’s quite a lot to learn from simulators.  I’ve done quite a lot of sim racing and have certainly noticed that the better real-life drivers do well in sim racing, and vice-versa.  Specific things I think sims like Gran Turismo can help with are choosing racing lines, being smooth, correcting understeer and oversteer, being aware of other cars at speed, choice of gears and learning new tracks – so, it’s a lot of help.  Take a look at the data logger output below from my lap:
Can’t say that’s just a crash-and-bash arcade game.  But don’t rely on GT teaching you too much, because there’s serious flaws; the car never breaks down, always runs perfectly, recovers to a driveable state after a crash, the finer points of car dynamics are just not there, and the track surfaces are too consistent time after time.  The tuning options aren’t exactly representative of real life either, and of course you can’t get hurt.
The best race simulator is generally agreed to be iRacing, available only on Windows computers.  This is a far more serious tool used by many professionals, as compared to the likes of Gran Turismo and Forza which while simulators do have a bit more game orientation to them that the experts would like.   But Gran Turismo is still great fun and a useful learning tool.  It might even help you choose your next car.
And now, if you want to see how good you are compared to the rest of the world and Australia, then here’s your chance, grab a copy of Gran Turismo 6 and you’ll find the GT Academy Special Event, 2015, waiting for you.  All you need to do is whip a virtual Nissan GT-R around Silverstone in less than 2 minutes, 11 seconds – even we’ve managed that!  But remember that’s only the first round.  It’s the final round that really counts…
If you need help check out this video from the experts at GT Planet:

Have a look at these photos.  This is under heavy braking, note the front suspension compression:

 Gran Turismo 6


Here’s a hard right turn

Gran Turismo 6
Gran Turismo 6

And here’s acceleration:

Gran Turismo 6

And this shot is so much easier to get in a virtual world than the real world!!!

Gran Turismo 6

Not long to go before Round 1 closes!



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