Friday, January 9, 2009

Johnny Herbert talks to

Are you proud of what GT Academy has achieved?
Definitely so, people have spoken for a long time about taking someone from virtual racing and seeing if they can do the real thing but nobody has had the courage to do it. It’s amazing that we have done it in such a short space of time, and myself and the rest of the team are there to help Lucas through what is a completely new experience.

How confident were you of finding virtual drivers that could perform on the track?

The level at the Silverstone Grand Final was much higher than I expected which was encouraging. One of the interesting things about all of the guys we saw was that their experience of playing Gran Turismo had been purely visual; I use my eyes but I’ve learnt to use the feel of the car when I drive, which you can’t fully replicate in a game. To the credit of those who came to Silverstone, they were all able to jump into a racing car and absorb what we were teaching them very quickly.

Is dealing with the media as much a learning process for Lars and Lucas as what they do on the track?
Absolutely, because it’s all part of racing. I’m used to it because I’ve done this so many times, but sometimes you do want to focus fully on the race in those hours before the start. I have learnt to get the interviews out of the way and then switch my mind to race mode.

Can you see them now pursuing careers in motorsport?
Motorsport is a hard game to get into, but GT Academy has given them the best possible chance. Yesterday, during practice, Lucas was only two seconds a lap slower than myself and the rest of the team, which shows how far he has come along in the short time he has been with us. If we get a good result today, then he will receive a lot of media attention and possibly the chance to start out in this form of racing. It’s an opportunity very few get and if he grabs it by the horns then who knows where it will take him. Like anything in life, if you try hard then you’re in with a chance.