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Gran Turismo 5  (Source: Sony)

Lucas Ordonez didn't have the money to race professionally. However, his obsessive play of the realistic racing sim Gran Turismo on Playstation consoles earned him the right to compete in real world racing. Now he has his first victory under his belt and is one of Europe's hottest new racers.  (Source: PC Authority)
Driver is competing -- and winning -- races he once played in video games

Lucas Ordoñez always loved cars and dreamed of being a professional race driver when he grew up.  In 2008, though, he had abandoned that dream as he lacked the finances necessary to become a professional racer.  The 22-year-old instead indulged in his passion by playing Gran Turismo and other racing games, when he wasn't working on his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

His life dramatically changed when Sony held a European PlayStation competition looking for the best "virtual driver" in Europe according to PC Authority.  Ordoñez, who lives in Spain, bested almost 25,000 of his fellow auto enthusiasts and won, gaining the chance to represent his nation at the Playstation GT academy, a special camp designed to help the hardcore console racing gaming geeks transition their skills into real world racing.

At the camp, Ordoñez proved a natural at racing in real world cars.  He found his "experience to be consistent in the laps and to know the perfect line in the tracks" had helped him to be able to recognize real-world braking points.  However, much work remained.  In the latter half of 2008, Ordoñez continued to work on his MBA and in the meantime hired a personal trainer to whip him into the shape necessary to handle the G-forces which professional racers experience.

On the weekends he competed in smaller European races in order to obtain his international race drivers 'C' license, which requires a certain amount of track time at national certified tracks.  Most of these races were RJN Motorsport Team events held in the UK.

It wasn't long before Ordoñez received his license.  And he didn't start small -- he took off to compete in the famous GTA Dubai International 24 Hour race in 2009.  Racing in a Nissan 350Z, he completed 451 laps and 2431km in 24 hr.  That impressive performance earned him a 9th place finish, and put him in a tie with English former F1 Gun, Johnny Herbert.

Then came an even greater accomplishment.  Ordoñez won the European GTA Cup for RJN Motorsport, a very high profile event.  Ordoñez now appears poised to enjoy a very successful and financially rewarding racing career, all thanks to his gaming experience.

Encouraged by the success, this year Sony is planning an even bigger 2010 GT Academy.  Gamers will compete in five stages.  The first two stages will give gamers a chance to compete in the unreleased Gran Turismo 5, which is due out in March 2010 (a prologue version is currently available).  The next stage will put those who prevail in the camp with real world race cars.  Couch potato gamers beware -- a fourth stage will pit the two best real-world drivers against each other mental, but also athletic tests, to show their mettle. 

Much like Ordoñez, one lucky winner will get the chance to drive a Nissan 370Z prepared by RJN Motorsport in May 2010's European GT4 Cup.

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By Lonyo on 12/4/2009 10:11:49 AM , Rating: 2
You can get quite close to the feeling with a wheel etc in games.
The feeling of being on the edge of grip and understeering wide in a computer game with a wheel and the same feeling in a regular road car on regular roads isn't that much different, one is just more dangerous than the other and happens less often (assuming you are a sensible driver).
How that compares to driving a real racing car around a track I have no idea, but some elements, including things like understeer when you go in too hot, you can feel in the right games with the right equipment.

By IcePickFreak on 12/4/2009 2:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I think it has a lot more to do with letting you learn some technical aspects - over/understeer, braking points, driving line. It's naturally going to be different in the real world, but once you understand the metrics behind it you can re-adjust yourself in the real world. Obviously there are a lot of other factors that can't be represented in a game, but there are still some valuable lessons you can carry over and gives you an edge up on someone else who just started racing but has no practice on the technical aspects of racing.

Same with flight sims. While someone who plays flight sims all the time isn't going to be a pro pilot right off the bat they'll definitely have a better understanding of the technical philosophies behind it.

The theoretical problem of being in an airplane with no pilot, I know I'd much rather have someone who's a flight sim buff attempt a landing than a common person who doesn't. It may be a crash landing, but I'd wager you're chances of survival are several fold that of someone who doesn't have the sim experience.

By stubeck on 12/4/2009 6:33:58 PM , Rating: 2
The biggest difference between driving on a computer versus driving in real life is the seat of your pants feeling of grip, and the g-forces involved. Racing in a game like GT is mainly useful for learning tracks, basic setup work, and also learning how to drive around other cars. It won't teach you how to drive at the limit, or how to deal with how brakes get worse as they heat up, since none of these are modeled in a game like GT.

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