Australian Matt Simmons will race in the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2016 with defending series champions Nissan GT Academy Team RJN and the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
Simmons, winner of the 2015 Nissan GT Academy International competition, will race in the world’s most competitive GT championship next year, transforming from a Gran Turismo gamer and Australia Post courier van driver in 2015 to a NISMO Athlete in 2016.
“Six months ago I was driving an Australia Post courier van in Brisbane,” Simmons said. “Even then, I knew my only chance of achieving my racing dream was via GT Academy, so I gave it everything I had.
“Winning was in some ways just the start of the journey. Once the Driver Development Program begins, you spend three months developing all the elements required to complete the ‘gamer to racer’ journey.
“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.”
Simmons, from Brisbane, Queensland, became the first Australian GT Academy winner when he won the International Race Camp at the Silverstone circuit in August. From there, he was based in the UK for three months undertaking the intensive Nissan Driver Development Program (DDP).
The progress, skill and dedication shown by Simmons throughout the program has led to Nissan and NISMO to commit to Simmons’ 2016 program early.
With his full-time program already locked in, Simmons and Nissan GT Academy Team RJN will skip the 2016 Dubai 24 Hours in January to focus on preparations for the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series.
As part of Simmons’ progression through the Nissan Driver Development program, he has already tested the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 at the Snetterton and Donington Park circuits.
Nissan GT Academy Team RJN and the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 have successful history in the Blancpain Endurance Series, winning the Pro Class title with Katsumasa Chiyo, Alex Buncombe and 2012 GT Academy Europe winner Wolfgang Reip in 2015, as well as the Pro-Am Class title in 2013 with inaugural (2008) GT Academy winner Lucas Ordonez.
Simmons’ team-mates will be confirmed at later date.