AFTER three months and going through 15,000 participants, the search for the best race car drivers to represent the Philippines in the Nissan GT Academy finals in Silverstone, United Kingdom is finally over with the selection of six highly-skilled virtual racers.
Since its launch on March 25, the Philippine Edition of the Nissan GT Academy attracted over 15,000 participants from Metro Manila, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu and Davao, who outraced each other for the top spot in over 30,000 trials held over the course of 20 live events during its three-month run. Out of the field emerged the 20 top contestants who battled it out during the national finals held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) parking lot and the SM Mall of Asia Atrium.
The top 20 finalists included Francisco Adriano, Joel Agojo, Paolo Vittorio Alcance, Daryl Brady, Rabboni Kojn Buenaventura, Luis Raphael Cachero, Kim Jiger Chong, Juan Carlos Eejay de Borja, Ramoncito de Luna, Rodolfo Faustino, Rio Halili, Richard Dean Jose, John Millard Lacuna, Terrence Aldrich Lallave, Raphael Miru Lesaguis, Luis Antonio Moreno, Cameron Jordan Padillo, Jose Gerald Policarpio, Mark Angelo Villamor and Michael Vincent Yap.
After going through actual driving challenges, virtual racing, physical trials and a personality challenge—where the participants faced a select group of motoring media for a panel interview, the top six players who posted the best scores were finally announced. Of the 20 finalists, Joel Agojo, Daryl Brady, Luis Raphael Cachero, Terrence Aldrich Lallave, Raphael Miru Lesaguis and Jose Gerald Policarpio were proclaimed as the six drivers who will represent the Philippines in the Nissan Grand Turismo Academy that will be held at the Silverstone track in England this coming August.
“The final Top Six candidates who successfully hurdle all these challenges can look forward to flying to the Silverstone Race Circuit in UK in August, and compete in the GT Academy Asia leg,” SJ Huh, Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI) general manager for marketing said.
All six Filipino drivers will battle it out against the top drivers from India, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand, both on and off the real-world track, using real-world race cars.
Lotus F1 Junior Team driver Marlon Stockinger will serve as the mentor/coach of the Filipino drivers.
“While I am happy to share my knowledge and experience in racing, nothing beats the contestant’s determination and drive to succeed in this demanding sport,” Stockinger said during the awarding ceremonies.
For his part, NPI president and managing director Antonio Zara said, “We are happy to be giving aspiring racers and gamers the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality. By democratizing motorsports in the country, we help fast-track the dreams of more potential Filipino racers to reach the international racing arena.”