Australian Nissan GT Academy winner Matt Simmons has landed a Nissan factory GT drive in the renowned Blancpain Endurance Series next season.
The reward comes after the gamer turned racer from Brisbane successfully fought off a selection of the world’s best gamers to win this year’s competition.
Since winning the GT Academy Simmons has completed a three month Nissan driver development program in the UK aimed to equip the Queenslander with all the necessary skills to become a professional racing driver.
The former Australia Post worker impressed through the process resulting in the 26-year-old being fast tracked into Nissan’s 2016 GT-R GT3 Blancpain Endurance Series program.
As a result, he will now sit out the Dubai 24 Hours race he was due to compete in January to focus on preparing for Europe’s toughest GT series, which begins at Monza from April 23-24.
Simmons has already experienced a taste of the GT-R GT3 during successful outings at Snetterton and Donington Park last month.
“I can’t believe how much my life has changed since winning at GT Academy Race Camp in August,” said Simmons.
“I’ve always dreamed of being a racing driver, even racing a Nissan GT-R, but nothing could have prepared me for that moment when I was told I’d be racing a GT-R NISMO GT3 in the Blancpain Endurance Series next year.
“Six months ago I was driving an Australia Post courier van in Brisbane. Even then, I knew my only chance of achieving my racing dream was via GT Academy, so I gave it everything I had.
“I’m determined to repay the faith that everyone has shown in me by making the most of every day and every opportunity that I get.
“I have to keep working hard and improving to ensure I represent the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy program and Australia in the best possible way.”
Nissan, which won the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Class with Katsumasa Chiyo, Alex Buncombe and Wolfgang Reip, is yet to reveal Simmons’ team-mates for the program.
Richard Emery, managing director and CEO of Nissan Australia, has been impressed by Simmons’ progress and is looking forward to seeing the latest GT Academy graduate develop.
“Australia has a new driver to cheer for in international motorsport, but it is surreal to think that earlier this year he was an Australia Post courier van driver by day and a PlayStation gamer by night,” said Emery.
“While Matt’s pathway may be different, he has truly earned his place. Matt has displayed great dedication, skill and maturity since winning the GT Academy International Race Camp in August.
“It is that effort and application that has allowed the program to lock in his 2016 program early.
“His progress has given everyone confidence that he will continue to improve and work hard as he prepares to compete in the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2016 in a 550-horsepower Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.”
VIDEO: Matt Simmons learns of his Blancpain Endurance Series drive
VIDEO: Nissan GT ace Alex Buncombe explains the Blancpain Endurance Series