South Africa has its own GT Academy champion in the form of Cape Town motoring journalist Ashley Oldfield. Oldfield was crowned in March 2013 after getting the better of 15 other racers at the Silverstone circuit in the UK.
After that he went into the GT Academy training programme, also at Silverstone, where trainees spend six days a week honing skills in the gym, on the track or in the Nismo simulator.
Oldfield’s training paid off. He won last year’s Silverstone 1,000km and came third in this year’s Dubai 24Hr, the location and date of which makes for the longest night stint of any 24-hour race in the world, in which Oldfield clocked his fastest lap.
“Going from PlayStation to racing seat is a big step, not just physically, but mentally,” explains Oldfield. “If you make a mistake in the game, nobody really cares; you just restart. In real-life races, there are consequences; your team has to fix your car if you bin it!”