In 2008, Nissan teamed up with Sony PlayStation to discover whether a video game player could become a racecar driver in the real world.
In less than three years, Lucas Ordonez has proved the answer to be a resounding 'yes'. His transformation from novice to professional racer has amazed the motorsport fraternity, and the extraordinary story will climax on 11-12 June when Lucas lines up to contest the most famous race in the world; the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The 25 year-old Spaniard will also contest the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in 2011 at the wheel of a Nissan-powered LMP2 car for the Signatech Nissan team.
For his part, Lucas is thrilled to be given the opportunity to take to the legendary track for the famous 24 Hour race. "It is beginning to sound cliched for me to talk about 'living my dream'," said the former MBA student. "However, the past three years have been amazing, and to have been given the opportunity by Nissan to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as all the other fantastic races in the Intercontinental Le Mans Series, is incredible. I recognize this is a big challenge and a great honor and I can't wait to get started at Sebring later this month."
Lucas was among the fastest of the 25000 people who entered the first GT Academy competition on PlayStation's Gran Turismo game. He won a place to represent Spain at a five-day training camp at the Silverstone circuit in great Britain, emerging victorious.
Between September and the end of 2008, Lucas embarked on an intensive driver training program to qualify for an international racing licence. With the licence secured in record time, Lucas headed to Dubai in January 2009 and joined former Le Mans and Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert in the GT Academy Team, contesting the Dubai International 24 Hours in a Nissan 350Z.
For 2011, the Intercontinental Le Mans Series consists of seven races. Starting with the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida on 19 March, it includes a number of famous races such as the 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, the Le Mans 24 Hours and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The series finale takes place in November in China.
Nissan and PlayStation's GT Academy competition continues to grow. In 2010, the second installment, 1.2 million gamers from across Europe entered. A new GT Academy North America is now running and the third European competition will start on 4 March, with a six-week virtual time trial on the new Gran Turismo 5 game.