After months of incredibly hard-fought competition, the GT Academy has named the top 25 South African qualifiers who will go into the National Finals over the weekend of 26/27 January 2013.
The virtual racers will be competing for one of eight coveted seats on a flight to Race Camp at the Silverstone circuit in the UK.
Up to this point South African contestants in the Nissan GT Academy have been competing online on Playstations or in simulators such as this one.
AND THE QUALIFIERS ARE…
Jacobus Volschenk - Gauteng
Robin van Merch - Cape
Conrad Volschenk - Gauteng
Steven Pelser - Gauteng
David Peetham - Gauteng
Jonathan Mogotsi - Gauteng
Leon Misselhorn - Gauteng
Theuns Erasmus - Cape
Deon Reddy - KwaZulu-Natal
Ashley Oldfield - Cape
Jade Dafel - Knysna
Robert Prytz - Gauteng
Gerard Rautenbach - Gauteng
Fergus van Rooi - Cape
Nazeem Edwards - Cape
Andrew James - Western Cape
Francis Alfdrich - Gauteng
Mohammed Nasif Dalvie - Western Cape
Driaan Nel - Gauteng
Jonathan Bentz - Gauteng
Michael Bredenhand - Western Cape
Hercules du Preez - Gauteng
Wesley Robb - KwaZulu-Natal
Louis Aylward - Eastern Cape
Werner Misselhorn - Gauteng
IT'S NOT A GAME ANY MORE
There were thousands of ferociously competitive entrants from all over South Africa, from sibling rivalry and friends competing from opposite ends of the country, to the most die-hard virtual racing aficionados travelling hundreds of kilometres in order to set their best qualifying lap time.
Nissan SA marketing manager Gavin Rheeder, commented: “We have seen some amazing feats since October, and we're confident that the eventual Top 8 finalists will do us proud in the UK.”
He highlighted some of the competition's most exciting moments thus far, such as when a group of online gamers who had been competing against each other online for years met for the first time at the GT Academy and the nail-biting action between the top two qualifiers.
The Volschenk brothers, Jacobus and Conrad, each made it into the top 25 at one of the Gauteng qualifiers, and then drove down from Johannesburg to Durban to take part in the Durban qualifier - where each of them made the top 25 again!
And they weren't the only siblings to qualify; Leon Misselhorn was a winner at the Maponya live qualifier, while his brother Werner was a finalist in the online competition.
The SA top 25 are in for a demanding time at the national finals, where GT Academy representatives from Europe will be on hand for inspiration and advice. Following various challenge heats of Gran Turismo 5 on the PlayStation consoles, the candidates will tackle real driving tests to gauge driver control and precision, physical fitness tests and a media challenge, as the virtual racers finally step out of the gaming world - some for the very first time.
Only eight will survive this gruelling elimination round and move on to Race Camp at Silverstone, where they will join another eight finalists from the Middle Eastern in the fight for the ultimate prize of becoming a professional Nissan racing driver.
The Top 8 finalists will be announced at the end of the South African finals on Sunday 27 January 2013; follow their progress online on Facebook or Twitter.