They say if you have a dream, there has never been a better time to turn it into reality. Technology ensures the world is at your fingertips and as it advances everyday, all you need is will to live the life you imagine. Abhinay Bikkani from Bangalore, Karnataka is one such guy. After polishing his skills on the playstation at home, playing Gran Turismo 6, he transformed those skills to take it to the track.
He won a spot on the podium in the coveted final race at the Nissan Playstation GT Academy International 2014 Race Camp in Silverstone. Abhinay finished third after John Muggleton of Australia and the overall winner Ricardo Sanchez of Mexico. Middle East’s Ahmed Bin-Khanen and Thailand’s Thanaroj Thanasitnitiket finished in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Abhinay, an aspiring race driver got the opportunity of a lifetime when he won his place at Race Camp from the hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo gamers that entered the competition across Australia, India, Mexico, the Middle East and Thailand. Having won through the India National Finals, he arrived at Silverstone as one of 6 to represent India, alongside 27 International competitors overall, representing 6 countries split into five territory groups.
Mr. Kenichiro Yomura, President – Nissan India Operations said, “I congratulate Abhinay on behalf of Nissan India for his admirable performance in the GT Academy International 2014 Race Camp. His achievement is even more special as India won a spot on the podium in the final race despite having participated for the first time ever in our coveted driver discovery and development program. This indicates a great motorsports career for him in the future. With GT Academy, we at Nissan are delighted to be able to show a meaningful direction to those who aspire to take motorsports as a career but are ready to work hard for it.”
Karun Chandhok, India Judge and Mentor
“Abhinay did a good job, perhaps a seven out of 10 for the race. He has a lot more potential; in practice and qualifying he was really fast, I really thought he could have won but unfortunately it didn’t work out for him. But he has a lot to be proud of; he beat all his fellow countrymen and got on the podium. He should go home happy. However, I hope to see a stronger and more prolific India in motor racing in the future!”
Over the course of six days, the competitors were put through their paces both on and off track. They enjoyed some of the best racing instruction and mentoring in the world in a range of Nissan cars, including the GT-R, the 370Z Nismo and 370Z race cars. Each group formed a close bond with their territory judge, who acted as a mentor, but then had to make the difficult decisions when it came to eliminations from the competition.
As well as the circuit driving and assessment, the competitors were judged on a series of challenges that included the Mud Mayhem assault course, Nissan Micra Stock Car racing, the Traffic Challenge in the Nissan GT-R, the Dirt Track Time Trial in the Nissan Juke, the head-to-head Gymkhana, Buggy Racing, and a head-to-head Dogfight pursuit race in Nissan 370Zs. Each challenge was accompanied and assessed by their judges that included ex-F1 racer Karun Chandhok, ex-F1 test driver Dani Clos, V8 Supercar legend Rick Kelly, Rally Driver and Drift King Abdo Feghali and renowned Thai Formula racer Tor Graves.
Gradual eliminations led to the penultimate day of Buggy and Dogfight challenges and the finale, which formed the decision from each judge on which of their two best drivers would take the wheel of the 370Z race cars for an eight-lap race of Silverstone’s National circuit.
The inaugural Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy International Race Camp drew to a thrilling conclusion at the UK’s Silverstone circuit as Ricardo Sánchez, 24 from Toluca in Mexico, was crowned champion. He will now go on to enjoy four months in one of the most advanced and successful driver development programmes in the world before racing for the Nissan NISMO race team in the international Dubai 24 Hour race in January 2015.