Akshay Gupta Finishes 3rd At the Nissan GT Academy Asia Race Camp 2015


Nissan GT Asia Race Camp Finalists 2015
L to R - Jose Gerard, Takuya Takahashi, Andika Rama, Akshay Gupta and Nathayos Sirigaya
After winning the National Finals in Chennai, Akshay Gupta - an automobile engineering student from India - went to Silverstone , UK to compete against other Asian countries finalists fora spot in the Nissan Racing Driver Development programme and a seat in the 2016 Dubai 24 Hours Race.

In the just concluded Finals at the Silverstone Race Camp for Asia, Akshay Gupta finished at 3rd spot behind Indonesia's Andika Rama and the winner Jose Gerard Policarpio of Philippines. The Asia Race Camp concluded with a thrilling 10-lap race around the Silverstone International Circuit between 5 finalists from 5 different Asian countries - Japan (Takuya Takahashi), Thailand (Nathayos Sirigaya), India (Akshay Gupta), Indonesia (Andika Rama) and Philippines (Jose Gerard Policarpio). All the 5 competitors were given a race-track optimized Nissan 370Z NISMO cars for the final race.

The Race - As it happened
Pole-sitter Andika Rama from Indonesia started the race well and led into the first corner, ahead of Policarpio from the Philippines who had leapfrogged Takuya Takahashi from Japan. Policarpio quickly got on the tail of Rama and for the first four laps the pair crossed the line separated by under a second with Takahasi settled in third just under two seconds behind. However after patiently waiting for his opportunity, 

I can’t even believe I won, it’s amazing, I feel so good. Never in my life did I think I’d be here. The race was so nerve-racking, when I got past Andika at Abbey I just kept looking back because he was starting to gain on me. I didn’t even notice the checkered flag, it just sunk in when I got back in the pitlane that I won. It’s just amazing! -- Race Winner, Jose Gerard Policarpio, Philippines

Policarpio then made his move on the fifth lap to incisively take the lead of the race. Unfortunately the fifth lap proved to be the end of Takahashi’s race as he limped into the pits with a mechanical problem. This left Policarpio and Rama to fight it out unchallenged at the front, with the pair once again staying in very close proximity.

Nissan GT Academy 2015 Asia Camp

The drama was saved for the last lap however with Policarpio getting a very slow exit out of Club corner, this left Rama right on his tail and after following him closely through Stowe, was poised to make a move into the final corner. Rama went for the move but some impressive defensive driving from Policarpio meant he held on and crossed the line just two-tenths clear of his rival.

Policarpio earned his place at Race Camp from the hundreds of thousands of Gran Turismo gamers that entered the competition across Asia. Having won through the Philippines National Final, he arrived at Silverstone as one of six to represent the Philippines, alongside 28 Asia competitors overall, split into five territory groups. 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.

“Jose Gerard has had pace all week, he’s been right at the top of our score sheets and he was second in the race up until the point when Indonesia made one mistake, bang, through clinically and he never made an error. I’m really really proud of him. We’ve had our eye on him since Bedford earlier on in the week, he’s been in our top three to watch and I look forward to working with him in the future.” -- Rob Barff, 2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy Asia Head Judge
Nissan GT Asia Race Camp Winner 2015
L to R : Andika Rama, Jose Gerard and Akshay Gupta
The on-track action got underway in the United Kingdom on Saturday, with six finalists from Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and five from India making up the 29-strong line-up. For Japan, Philippines and Indonesia, this was the first year that a GT Academy competition had been run in their territory, with both Thailand and India debuting as part of GT Academy International in 2014. While Mexico’s Ricardo Sanchez was the 2014 winner, the opportunity provided a springboard for the racing careers of territory winners Thanaroj Thanasitnitiket (Thailand) and Abhinay Bikkani (India) who have both picked up wins in this year’s Nissan Micra Cup, based in Canada.

Throughout their time at Asia Race Camp, a series of both racing and physical challenges whittled the gamers down to a final ten this morning that were still in contention of being GT Academy Asia champion. Each judge then had to decide between their two best drivers for who would take the wheel of the 370Z NISMO race cars for a ten-lap race of Silverstone’s International Circuit.

The challenges came thick and fast throughout their week at Race Camp, with gamers being thrown into the action straight away on their first day where they got behind the wheel of single seaters, Caterham racers, Nissan GT-Rs and JPLM cars at Bedford Autodrome. Throughout the week, various surprise challenges were thrown at them including the ‘GT Ninja’ assault course, an innovative army-style Gymkhana driving race, dune buggy racing, head-to-head timed shootouts on the Silverstone track and an incredibly eventful Nissan Micra stock car race which saw only two cars finish which decided the starting grid for today’s final race.
“Congratulations to Jose Gerard on becoming our first-ever GT Academy Asia champion. The global expansion of GT Academy has been fantastic this year and we’re delighted to have been able to host the first-ever Asia Race Camp. I can’t stress enough how much enthusiasm the new markets have had for the competition and how they’ve embraced it with open arms. They only have to look at the instant rewards and opportunities that drivers from new markets have been given as a result of GT Academy and it’s great that we’re able to provide them this unique route into the world of motorsport.” -- Darren Cox, Nissan Head of Motorsport 
Policarpio’s opportunity of a lifetime will begin right away, where he will receive world-class racing tuition and physical training from Nissan to prepare him for his endurance race debut in Dubai next January, where he will be part of the same driver line-up as International Race Camp winner Matthew Simmons. To follow their progress as well as previous GT Academy winners, more details about GT Academy can be found on various platforms including: www.facebook.com/GTAcademy, www.gran-turismo.com and Twitter @GTAcademy


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About Vivek Manjarekar

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