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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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RE: See kids
By jonmcc33 on 12/4/2009 2:41:59 PM , Rating: 1
You should try racing for real in a sanctioned event or a sanctioned location. In fact, you don't even have to have prior experience to take part in an SCCA-sanctioned novice event.

Didn't you read what I said? I tend to total vehicles in racing games. Not because I cannot drive but because I am aggressive in my competitive edge. I don't just rub other vehicles, I ram them and PIT them.

If anything, it will make you a far better driver when you aren't on the course.

Who says I am not a good driver in real life? The only accident I ever caused in my life was 30 days after I initially got my driver's license. Since then, it has been a clean bill for 14 years. Other people have wrecked into me but that's not my fault.

I do have a lead foot though. I went 130mph in my 2006 Hyundai Sonata V6 on I-75 once.

RE: See kids
By MrBlastman on 12/4/2009 5:06:38 PM , Rating: 3
Oh I didn't mean to insinuate you're a bad driver, not at all. You'll find though that after racing for real that you will see a profound improvement in your driving abilities--this is a guarantee. Until you have a pushed a car to its limits repeatedly you will never be able to fully utilize your vehicle in everyday situations and more importantly, emergency situations. Just going fast in a straight line every once in a while doesn't count as pushing the limits. The limits I speak of are cornering in sharp turns, confined spaces, setting up from a turn to a series of esses etc.

Not to mention, it is a great way to have some fun every once in a while. :)

RE: See kids
By DominionSeraph on 12/4/2009 6:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't even hit the top speed of that Sonata, and you think you have a lead foot?

My little sister broke 140mph in her Prelude at 16.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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