With over 70 million copies of Gran Turismo sold around the world over 15 years, it’s hard to imagine a bigger motorsport gaming franchise for enthusiasts to be part of behind the wheel or controller of their console games machine. This week Trevor Long got behind the wheel of the upcoming release Gran Turismo 6 alongside spanish race-driver Lucas Ordonez.
I don’t mind watching the cricket (when it’s in the final few overs) or the football (in the last 10 minutes for the big result), but when it comes to dedication – motorsport is where it’s at for me. I don’t miss a F1 grand prix, and have spent a lot of time behind the wheel of my Playstation 3 playing Gran Turismo and F1 2012 among others.
This week, Playstation sent a Nissan 370Z to pick me up and meet someone they are very proud to call their own. Lucas Ordonez is a 28-year-old Spanish race-driver who competes in the GT series and Le Mans events and even has a Le Mans podium to his name, finishing second in his class in 2011.
Uniquely, Lucas got his start in racing by being pretty darn good at Gran Turismo on the Playstation.
In what I can only describe as every parents worst nightmare, spending time polishing his skills behind the virtual wheel meant that Lucas was able to beat some 25,000 others around the world in the GT Academy in 2008. After beating them online, he went to Silverstone to undergo some fitness tests and a real world driving test before landing a drive in a genuine race team. The rest – as they say, is history.
Early on, Lucas tells me “the other drivers didn’t take me seriously, but after proving my skills on the track that became a distant memory”. Having earned the respect of his fellow race-drivers he has shown the way for many more since.
This year, the Playstation GT academy is back, after teaming up with Nissan – in 2013 the new Gran Turismo 6 will be the entry mechanism.
It’s a fantastic concept, it demonstrates just how close these simulators are to reality.
To test that, I visited Playstation’s Sydney headquarters with Lucas to check out Gran Turismo 6 and see how our lap-times compared.
As soon as he sat down behind the fully Playstation compatible Thurstmaster wheel, Lucas jumped into the driver settings and turned off all the helping hands like traction control, auto gearbox and well, all those things we like to at least turn up a little.
He flew out onto the Silverstone circuit and started his laps. Lucas did three laps, his best (his second lap) was a 2.09.165. For those playing along at home, that’s a Gold trophy time in Gran Turismo.
I jumped behind the wheel and did three laps of my own. I was pretty satisfied to follow Lucas’ “ghost” lap time close through the first few turns. But he had the moves on more than one turn and as a result my best time was 2.15.729. A Bronze trophy time – pretty happy with that for my first crack, on pro settings.
At a glance on a few laps like that, I didn’t notice a huge amount of the new features of Gran Turismo 6, but with new partnerships even with tyre companies to better simulate the wear and feeling of the tyres you can be assured we’re getting closer and closer to the real thing.
Here’s the full GT6 launch video:
Gran Turismo 6 is out on Playstation 3 later this year.
You can follow Lucas on Twitter too.