From PlayStation to Le Mans to GC32

By James on 02 Aug. 2018

The GC32 Racing Tour has several connections with motor racing. Stephanie Nadin, our glamorous corporate hospitality manager also holds this role at the 24 hours of Le Mans, an event in which Zoulou owner-driver Erik Maris competes. Codigo Rojo skipper Federico Ferioli and his father are also both keen motor racing drivers.

Yesterday the GC32 Racing Tour was visited by a star of the endurance motor racing world – Spain’s Lucas Ordóñez. Ordóñez is renowned, uniquely, for having made the transition from virtual racing driver into the real thing and having done so with great success.

In 2008 the PlayStation GT Academy was introduced – an international virtual-to-reality contest backed by Nissan, PlayStation and Polyphony Digital. Running to this day, the GT Academy allows the best players of the PlayStation game Gran Turismo to compete for the opportunity to become a real-life professional race car driver. In 2008 Ordoñez was its first winner. This earned him a spot on the Nissan racing team, who provided all the training and licensing needed to race in international events.

Ordoñez’s first race in the real world was the Dubai 24hr, driving alongside the former F1 driver and Le Mans winner Johnny Herbert and with Alex Buncombe finished the 2009 European GT4 Cup second overall in the drivers’ championship. Since then he has finished 2nd (2011) and 3rd (2013) in the highly competitive LMP2 class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans racing Nissan-powered cars with the Signatech-Nissan and Greaves Motorsport teams respectively.

On the opening day of the GC32 Racing Tour competition at Copa del Rey MAPFRE, Ordóñez sailed as guest on board NORAUTO, with skipper Franck Cammas and with fellow Le Mans driver Erik Maris on Zoulou. Of the experience he said: “The GC32s are amazing, I had my first experience on the GC32s two years ago. It’s just incredible – the speed, the aerodynamics of these boats, the hydrodynamics with the foils, I really enjoyed it. It’s not only the speed, it’s also the turns – the G-force they create is impressive – you have to really hold onto the net. I’m used to very high downforce with race, cars but with these amazing sailing boats it’s incredible – their efficiency and the team work of the crew. I watched how they coordinate themselves and how they do exactly the right thing at the right moment which is essential to win. When you are up in the air the feeling of speed and freedom is amazing.”

Fresh from the Spa 24 hours race in Belgium in which he finished seventh racing for Nissan, Ordóñez was on board Zoulou for the ANONIMO Speed Challenge in which they finished second behind NORAUTO. “It’s amazing how quick they get up to speed – around 25 knots, even though the wind is not very strong. The Zoulou team said they did a great job and were really happy with their run.”

And how does it compare with the racing he does? “Obviously the speed we go at is different, but the feeling of speed and the adrenaline is very similar – you are in the air, there’s lots of team work, many people stressing and trying to do things as fast as they can. Fighting to be the fastest on a race track or on the sea – in the end it’s very similar.”