In just a few days time, GT Academy winner Lucas Ordonez is going to see all of his dreams come true when he competes at Le Mans in the Signatech Nissan LMP2 car. Since he won GT Academy in 2008, Lucas has been on a steep learning curve and has now made the grade as a professional sportscar racer.
"Le Mans has been my dream since I was ten-years-old," said Lucas. "It is the most important race in the world and a very important event for my family. My father has all the yearbooks, which I used to read as a kid, never thinking I would one day be part of it. Even after winning GT Academy I never expected to get this far and I don't think I'm really going to believe it until it happens. The Test Day was an amazing experience for me; on my first lap is started to rain so it was pretty scary along the Mulsanne. After that though I enjoyed the moment, going through all those legendary corners and I can't wait to go back there for the race."
GT Academy is now in its third season. The season two winner, Jordan Tresson, is racing the RJN Motorsport Nissan 370Z in the Blancpain Endurance Series this year and finished second in the GT4 class at the his recent race in Navarra, Spain. Hot on Lucas and Jordan's heels are the finalists from Season Three of GT Academy who will travel to Le Mans to get a taster of life as a professional driver. They will be put through their paces during the weekend at a special boot camp before jumping into a fleet of Nissan 370Zs to travel back to the UK for the final reckoning at Silverstone where the third winner will be chosen.
Nissan has created a rich history at Le Mans since its first attempt at the world-famous race in 1986 where the company entered two of its R85V prototypes. Throughout the 80's and 90's Nissan entered a host of GT and prototypes in the 24-hour race; from the R90CK which took pole position in 1990 to the R390 GT1 that finished third overall in 1998 and finally the R391 in 1999.
Now after an eleven-year absence Nissan is back! The Japanese manufacturer is supplying the Nissan VK45DE V8 engines to three LMP2 teams in the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours: partner team Signatech Nissan, Greaves Motorsport and Team Oreca Matmut.
Nissan will also provide a glimpse into the future at Le Mans when it's all-new EV racing car will be seen in action for the first time outside of Japan. The Nissan LEAFTM NISMO RC made its debut at the New York Motor Show earlier this year and is heralded as the car that will bring new meaning to the term ‘Racing Green'.
"The 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours has provided us with a great opportunity to show the world that Nissan is at the forefront of automotive innovation," commented Darren Cox, Chief Marketing Manager (Crossover and Sports Cars), Nissan Europe. "We're excited to see our virtual-to-reality racer, Lucas, making his Le Mans debut in a Nissan-powered LMP2 car. GT Academy was never designed to be a one-off stunt but instead a genuinely different approach to finding new motorsport talent from the vast pool of racing gamers out there. Now in it's third season in Europe we have provided a real ‘ladder of motorsport' for our winners and will continue to do so. If that's not enough innovation we are previewing another new way of going racing - the 100% electric Nissan LEAFTM NISMO RC. Whilst other manufacturers have talked about innovation in electrification of motoring, Nissan has gone and done it. European Car of the Year, now real race car within months!"
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