Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand has announced 19 year old Wellington student Tony Autridge as the New Zealand winner of GT Academy 2010. Autridge is New Zealand’s first representative in the international competition, which will see 19 competitors from 14 countries going head-to-head for the ultimate prize.
To find the country’s top GT driver, 20 finalists were flown in from all across the country to participate in the final event at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, but after a rigorous competition it is only Autridge who will take his PlayStation®3 (PS3™) lounge room racing dreams to the race track, literally.
Under the scrutiny of motoring media and top international race driver Jonny Reid, it was Tony's consistency and coolness under pressure that pulled him through and elevated him above the tough competition. Demonstrating an ability to time and execute clean passing manoeuvres as well as being able to lead from the front, Tony will be a serious contender for the next stage of the GT Academy at Silverstone. But it wasn’t easy.
"It was really tough. And you needed a bit of luck too," says Autridge of the NZ finals. "I'm very excited to be going. But it still hasn't sunk in yet."
After the competition, Autridge was given his first taste of the real thing – a drive in a Nissan 370Z, one of the cars he may end up racing in on the European GT4 Cup circuit. Under the guidance of top international driver Jonny Reid, Tony showed that the skills he’s been honing on his PS3 transferred to the track well.
In less than three weeks, Autridge will travel to the GT Academy at Silverstone, UK to undergo a 5-day rigorous training program against 19 international competitors for the chance to win the competition’s ultimate prize – the chance to become a real world, professional race car driver.
During the racing ‘boot-camp’, participants will have the chance to develop new driving skills through a series of online and off-line challenges that will include handling of Nissan cars and will also be judged on physical fitness and mental attitude.
The two finalists that best display the talent, fitness, aptitude, drive and determination required to succeed in motor sport, will undergo a UK-based intensive driving and racing programme to prepare them to qualify for an international racing license. Finally, the driver with the most potential will compete on an international stage, racing a full season in the European GT4 Cup in a Nissan 370Z prepared by RJN Motorsport in May, 2010.
Autridge follows in the footsteps of Spanish student Lucas Ordoñez, who graduated from his PlayStation 3 console to become a full-time racing driver via the GT Academy in 2008.
“GT Academy is turning dreams into reality” says David Hine, Sales and Marketing Director, SCE New Zealand. “From enjoying the ultimate racing game, Gran Turismo on his PlayStation at home, PlayStation and Nissan have given Tony the opportunity of realising his dreams of becoming a real-life racing driver through GT Academy.”
“The team at PlayStation share Tony's excitement and anticipation as he heads to the UK. With 2010 being the inaugural year of New Zealand's involvement in GT Academy, we wish him well and will be supporting him all