Miguel Faisca wins 2013 European Nissan GT Academy and will race in GT3 in 2014
Previous winners have gone on to finish on podium at Le Mans
By William Esler
Last Updated: 12/09/13 3:54pm
The 24-year-old from Lisbon will now undertake a rigorous development programme over the coming months as he goes from being a gamer, to an international racing driver next year.
Fasica was one of over 765,000 applicants to enter the competition via the Gran Turismo 6 racing game, with 42 making it to a week-long race camp at Silverstone where they underwent a series of challenges that tested driving ability, fitness, attitude, psychological strength and potential.
The Portuguese driver impressed throughout and after winning a rain-soaked race on Wednesday, the judges - headed by Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert - handed Fasica the life changing opportunity.
"I'm very proud," the 24-year-old said.
"I didn't expect to win this morning. I don't think I was one of the favourites. But I was feeling good with the car and the track and I quite like the rain conditions. I didn't get a good start and I was second. Once I got into the lead it was very difficult to keep it, but I am so happy.
"This is the start. It is going to be very hard work, but I can't wait to get going. Thanks to Nissan and PlayStation for this opportunity. It is fantastic to be the first Portuguese winner."
The programme has proved to be a resounding success over the years and 2008 winner Lucas Ordonez and 2011 champion Jan Mardenborough even finished on LMP2 podium at Le Mans this year.
"It has produced some really good results in the past and each year it just keeps getting bigger and better," Mardenborough told Sky Sports.
"Lucas has done fantastic since being the original winner in 2008 and he is the one we all look up to and think 'wow that guy has done well.' It is a fantastic opportunity to reach your dreams.
"It was a big risk for Nissan to take - I saw the original advert in 2008, but I wasn't old enough to enter at that time, but I remember seeing it and thinking 'that can't be right. You can't take a gamer and put them in a racing car,' but Lucas has proved us wrong.
"To come third with him this year at my first Le Mans was amazing and it just shows that there is a link between virtual and reality."
Unlike previous winners, Mardenborough has moved to Formula 3 this season and is hopeful of becoming the first GT Academy driver to make it to F1.
"That is the ultimate goal for anyone in single-seaters - particularly those in Formula 3," he added.
"The goal has to be F1 and for sure I am pushing 100% every time I am in the car and that is the ultimate goal. I have taken a different route to the other winners, but hopefully in the future we can have some other GT Academy winners in single-seaters to show off what is possible."