Four winners of Nissan GT Academy 2014 will race as one team in this year’s edition of 24 Hours Dubai. The grueling race will be their first international racing experience after winning the GT Academy 2014 challenge in their respective regions. The four 2014 winners will be joined by the winner of GT Academy Germany 2013.
Ahmed Khalid, winner of GT Academy Middle East 2014, will be making his race debut in Dubai, completing his journey from living room gamer to real-life racer when he gets behind the wheel of the GT-R NISMO GT3 as part of the Nissan team. The full line-up includes other regional winners of GT Academy 2014 - Nicolas Hammann from USA, Gaetan Paletou from Pan Europe and Ricardo Sanchez from Pan International, as well as by Florian Strauss, winner of GT Academy Germany 2013.
Samir Cherfan, Managing Director, Nissan Middle East, says: “The fact that Ahmed Khalid, a winner of the GT Academy in 2014, will be taking part in such a prestigious event as the 24 Hours at the Dubai Autodrome is a source of great pride to us. Nissan’s GT Academy keeps developing the champs for a successful career in motorsports and we are excited to see the dreams of those four gamers coming true.
“Nissan is committed to supporting motorsport and has been pushing the boundaries of innovation within this industry for a long time. To be able to transform a gamer into a professional racer on the track is unique and exciting experience.” he added.
At the 24 Hours of Dubai, for the first time GT Academy graduates will be competing in a full race spec Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. The racing car retains the core attributes of the road-going GT-R. As the ‘GT’ in its name suggests, one of those objectives is to provide an exciting-yet-comfortable driving experience no matter what the road or weather conditions; while the other objective refers to the ‘R’ in its name, to deliver exhilarating high performance derived from race car technology.
“It has been always my dream to become a racing driver, and thanks to the Nissan GT Academy Challenge I’ll be behind the wheel with the Nissan team in the 24 Hours of Dubai. As my first international race, I want to put in a big one for the team. The whole experience, from the sofa in the living room playing games to the international finals at Silverstone to lining up on the grid in the great race in Dubai is life-changing for me” says Khalid.
Finalists of the GT Academy 2014 race camp were judged at Silverstone – UK, where Ahmed Khalid claimed the Middle East’s title.
Over a six-day period competitors received intense and in-depth instruction on all aspects of motor racing. Vehicles they were exposed to included three of the finest, the GT-R, 370Z NISMO and 370Z.
“I didn’t have any experience as a racing driver so the race camp at Silverstone was tough physically and mentally. But it was invaluable and I hope to bring the skills I learnt to Dubai Autodrome in my debut international race,” says Khalid.
Additionally, the Nissan Nismo athletics coaches applied extensive preparations on the team and will be on hand to assist the drivers in any area necessary during the race.
“There is so much more than simply getting behind the wheel and driving fast. There’s fitness, mental toughness and self-belief, diet, knowledge of the technology that makes up the vehicles and much more. What takes place off the track is as important as what happens on it,” says Martin Poole, one of the coaches.
For nearly 80 years, Nissan has been pushing the boundaries of innovation within the Motorsports industry. Ever since its grassroots the Datsun NL-75 won at the Japanese Tamagawa Speedway in 1936, Nissan has developed some of the most recognized racing cars to have ever graced the track. Nissan’s global recognition came later in 1964 when it showcased its first ‘Skyline GT’ in Germany, which then went on to overtake a Porsche in one lap during the Japan Grand Prix.
The success has continued with the domination of the Nissan GT-R of Japan’s prestigious Super GT series. The 2014 championship was won by Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda in the number 23 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R. Also in 2014 Nissan made history when the Nissan ZEOD RC became the first car to complete a racing lap at the 24 Hours of Le Mans under electric power alone.
The Dubai 24 Hours event is both a sports car and touring car automobile endurance race held annually at the Dubai Autodrome. The event is open to both professional and semi-professional teams and is the highlight of the Middle East racing calendar.
There are local competitors from the UAE and throughout the Gulf plus a host of international teams, particularly from Europe. Race will be staged at the Dubai Autodrome January 8-10, 2015.