Matt Simmons, winner of the 2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy International competition, finally had his first test of the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 race car at the Snetterton circuit in the UK.
The Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 is the same car that won the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour, 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series and 2015 GT300 Super GT Championship.
The Australian was assisted at the test by former GT Academy winner and NISMO athlete Jann Mardenborough.
Simmons has shown terrific work ethic and skill through the Nissan Driver Development Program (DDP) to date, having already earned the 12 signatures required to gain his International-level racing license.
Following the GT3 test, Simmons scored two victories in races at Snetterton aboard a Nissan 370Z NISMO GT4, leading both races from start to finish.
Simmons’ DDP progress continues through November before he returns home to Australia for Christmas.
“When I go to any test, race day or tuition, it is still pretty surreal to wake up and think that’s what I get to do. It’s weird to adjust and say this is my life,” Simmons said.
“You’ve got to make the most out of the tuition days and learn from these guys (GT Academy Driver Coaches). It’s not every day that they can sit in your passenger seat and see directly what you are doing, and the feedback you get is amazing.”
“Waking up to it raining on the day of the test, I knew it was going to be a monumental day. Having Jann there was really good, as being able to get feedback from someone with far more experience I was able to see if I was getting the same feeling as him from the car.”
“I think that the team had faith in me, as despite the tricky weather conditions, they were still happy to put me out in the GT3. It was amazing to feel the speed, I felt so privileged to be able to drive a GT-R GT3 as not many people get to. It was nuts to do that,” Simmons added.
Talking about his race win at Snetterton onboard the Nissan 370Z NISMO GT4, Simmons said, “At the race weekend, a lot of confidence came from the speed and consistency training I had earlier in the week. I got to the limit quickly and felt comfortable. I made it count and got pole. It was an amazing feeling to line up first on the grid, as I’ve never had that before.
“My Achilles heel for a lot of this program has been race starts, so I worked on my start processes, and it paid off as in the races my starts were good and I was able to lead from there and never looked back.
“It was my starts that won me both races. Eight weeks ago I would have been really nervous before a race, but now I have focus. I have preparation and a plan of what I want to do, and I’m able to execute it.”