Saturday, January 10, 2009

The finish, but not the end...

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Virtual becomes reality

There are mixed feelings in the Nissan PlayStation team after the TOYO tires 24h of Dubai endurance race. Everyone feels hard done by after such a merciless run of bad luck in the first 12 hours; the drivers were all magnificent when allowed onto the track and the pit crew worked miracles amidst trying circumstances to keep the car in the running long into Saturday morning. One victory that every team member can take credit for is for doing what nobody else has ever done – taking a novice from the virtual world of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and developing him into a real racing driver.

The ease of his transition may surprise some, but not Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi. “It is a dream come true for me to see my game develop a real racing driver,” he said. “I have been hoping for it to happen for ten years.”

“Lucas’s performance has been excellent, but I would expect that from a driver trained using Gran Turismo. I haven’t had much time to watch him drive but he is very calm and never seems to worry. I always believed that someone good at GT could drive as fast as a professional; in fact, I think that they could even go faster.”

Lars will perhaps feel the greatest disappointment, but what he has achieved in such a short time is also astounding and he too now has a stepping stone into racing that so few get.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of an endurance race is being around people that can remain laid-back amidst such fierce competition and incredible feats of skill and endurance. The Nissan PlayStation team has achieved so much in this race, and any disappointment will be taken on the chin. The one phrase you hear constantly when walking along the pit-lanes is: “that’s motorsport!”
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Chequered flag

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Lucas crosses the finish line

With GT Academy winner Lucas Ordóñez behind the wheel, the Nissan PlayStation Racing Team’s Nissan 350Z GT4 crossed the finish line of the TOYO Tires 24h of Dubai endurance race to a rapturous reception. The team finished 45th overall and ninth in its class, completing 451 laps and covering a distance of 2431km.

Their placing fails to reflect stunning performances from drivers and pit-crew alike amidst frustrating mechanical difficulties that forced the car into the pits 21 times. During the course of the race they used 1,170 litres of fuel and 30 sets of tyres. The top speed achieved by the car was 150mph and Alex Buncombe recorded t
he quickest lap at 2:10:04 minutes. The fastest driver changeover and refuel was achieved in an incredible 56 seconds.

Land Motorsport 2 took first place overall, completing 573 laps; Al Faisal Racing 1 came in second and won the A5 class in which the Nissan PlayStation team competed; and Besaplast Racing Team claimed third place.

Lucas was clearly elated as he received pats on the back from his teammates and hugs from his family, who have travelled over from Spain and supported him throughout the race. “It was the most amazing feeling,” he beamed. “I saw all of my team climbing the barrier and cheering me on. It was the craziest feeling of my life.”

“This is a weekend of disappointments and great achievements,” declared Johnny Herbert. “Lucas did brilliantly, producing
a mistake-free drive under big pressure. He has achieved everything we had hoped from him and proved that it is possible to make the transition from virtual racing to the real thing.

“It’s a shame about the mechanical problems, but they come with the job. Everyone wants a race without problems but these things rear their ugly head. I’ve been in races where we didn’t even make the finish line so at least we got there.”
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Still practicing!

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Good news travels fast

Lucas Ordóñez is really turning on the style here in Dubai. He completed his third driving session with another 2:11 minute lap to take the Nissan PlayStation team into 45th place overall and into the top ten of its class.

The eerie calm that surrounded the track a few hours ago as tiredness took grip - a far cry from the pandemonium that swarmed the starting grid - made it all the more impressive to watch the drivers pounding along the track relentlessly. But as the sun emerges and the end of the race draws nearer, everyone is suddenly refreshed.

With a podium finish now seeming impossible, the team will no doubt dwell on what might have happened had they not been hit by such bad luck during the first half of the race. They estimate that their 16 pit-stops have cost them as many as 60 laps. One thing that nobody can fault is the drivers; every one of them has been magnificent and still they are hungry for more.
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Final day begins

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