GT Academy winner completes Nissan GT-R test

Tom Howard

Monday 9th November, 2015 - 11:25am

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Matt Simmons behind the wheel of the Nissan GT-R GT3 at Snetterton

Matt Simmons behind the wheel of the Nissan GT-R GT3 at Snetterton

Australian GT Academy winner Matt Simmons stepped up his transition from gamer to professional racing driver by completing a successful test in the Nissan GT-R GT3.

The 26-year-old from Queensland is nearing the end of his three month extensive driver training program in Britain after winning the coveted Nissan GT Academy competition in August.

A former postal worker, Simmons has been making steady progress through the program gathering MSA signatures to put towards securing his international race licence ahead of January’s prize drive at the Dubai 24 Hours.

To further assess his development Simmons was awarded a test in the Nissan GT-R GT3 at a wet Snetterton, with the hit out overseen by Nissan LMP1 driver and former GT Academy winner Jan Mardenborough.

“That was an unforgettable day I can’t believe that happened,” Simmons told Speedcafe.com.

Australia's GT Academy winner Matt Simmons

Australia’s GT Academy winner Matt Simmons

“It was surreal to think that I was driving something I used to race on the Playstation for fun.

“It was good to have Jann (Mardenborugh) there and he is world class and someone I look up to.

“The weather wasn’t ideal but that is something you have to factor in.

“There was a sense of confidence of what I have achieved so far that they (the RJN Nissan team) felt comfortable with me just logging laps.

“It was an unbelievable experience I hope that is not the last day that I’m ever in that car.”

Simmons admitted the test has further whetted his appetite to secure a drive with Nissan at the Bathurst 12 Hour in the future.

“When I hopped out I thought I could drive this at Bathurst in the 12 hour one day,” Simmons added.

“It is definitely one of my goals. That would be a dream race for me.

“There is no coincidence there is a direct connection with having me in that race for so many reasons but I still think I have much more to show to them and prove to them that I deserve a race seat one day.

“But until then that won’t come up for discussion until they feel I can do the job right.

“If I am up not up to that task then that is fine with me. It would be special to be there though.”

Simmons is due to return to Australia to continue his Dubai 24 Hour preparations at the end of the month, following the conclusion of the GT Academy driver development program.

The Brisbane-based driver is well on the way with his race preparations, having earned the 12 signatures required to secure his international race licence.

VIDEO: GT Academy winner Matt Simmons tests the Nissan GT-R GT3