Nissan Altima Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge racerEnlarge Photo
The past winners of Nissan GT Academy have proven that they can translate their video-game skills into on-track prowess, and they're about to do it again.
GT Academy U.S. champions Brian Heitkotter and Steve Doherty will team up to compete in the remainder of the 2014 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season, co-driving the No. 34 CA Sport/Skullcandy Nissan Altima Coupe in the Street Touring (ST) class.
They'll compete together at the Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend, and will stay on for the rest of the 2014 season.
GT Academy pits drivers with mad Gran Turismo video-game skills against each other for a spot on an actual Nissan race team. Heitkotter was the 2011 U.S. champion, while Doherty won in 2012.
Heitkotter drove the Grand Sport (GS)-class Doran Racing Nissan 370Z NISMO in 2012 and 2013, racking up three pole positions, five front-row qualifying runs, a podium finish, and four-top 10 finishes.
Doherty raced last season in the European Blancpain Endurance Series, earning two podium finishes in a Nissan GT-R.
Both drivers actually shared the No. 34 Altima at the 2014 12 Hours of Sebring back in March, where they finished 31st in class after suffering mechanical problems around the halfway point. They've also run the car separately: Heitkotter at Daytona in January, and Doherty at Kansas Speedway last August.
Nissan GT Academy graduates are making names for themselves abroad as well. Original winner Lucas Ordonez will drive Nissan's radical ZEOD RC at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, and race in the Japanese Super GT series, while 2011 British winner Jann Mardenborough is being prepped for Formula One.