GT Academy winner ready for life-changing move
Australian Nissan GT Academy winner Matt Simmons will leave for Europe next week to continue his life changing transformation from postal worker to professional racing driver.
The 26-year-old Queenslander validated his gaming ability on the race track by winning the Silverstone GT Academy finals last week, which saw him secure a lucrative professional racing driver contract with Nissan.
Simmons has since returned to Australia before completing a move to the UK for the next three months as he undertakes a thorough Nissan driver development program.
The initiative will see the young Aussie compete in several races as he aims to acquire his international licence, before taking part in a Nissan factory entry in the showpiece Dubai 24 Hours from January 14-16 next year.
Despite the enormity of the life changing events he has experienced, Simmons is already focussed on the next challenge, admitting he is far from being a fully fledged racing driver.
“I still cannot believe it. I think it will feel real when I get back over there and in a race car learning again,” Simmons, who is the guest of Nissan at this weekend’s V8 Supercars Sydney Super Sprint, told Speedcafe.com.
“Knowing that I’m going to be over in the UK has taken some time to get used to but the program has worked so well that I’m really excited about it.
“It is all hard work from here it is the matter of a opportunity Nissan has given me nothing is going to be handed to me it has all got to be earned.
“I’m very much ready to put in the hard yards for three months and it’s going to be great because this program is all about purely focussing on improving myself as a race car driver.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges and the progression of becoming a professional by having the opportunity to have a team of the best guys teaching you everything.
“I feel confident jumping in a car and going lap after lap and perfecting that, but when other cars are fighting for the same tarmac, I’m going to really enjoy the learning how to deal with that.
“I think there will be bit of nerves in that first race but that is healthy.”
Although acknowledging he is at the start of his motor racing career, Simmons is already eyeing a dream scenario of contesting the Bathurst 12 Hour in the future.
“That (Bathurst 12 Hour) is definitely a dream race for me and if I can tick that of my list one day I will be a very happy man,” added Simmons.
“I’m really excited about all the amazing race seats Nissan has.
“For me I’m happy to drive anything but I would love to be in Europe and get as much experience of that and then maybe tackle something in Australia one day.
“I would love to stay in GT production and work my way up to Nismo’s LMP1 program.”
VIDEO: Watch Matt Simmons journey from gamer to racing driver