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GT ACADEMY' PLAYER JOINS THE 'ECO' RANKS

By Edd Ellison

A new name in the Thailand Super Series paddock this year is Jakraphan Davee; he’s joined the ‘entry level’ Super Eco category, reserved for the new generation of small eco cars that are built in Thailand. His choice from the list is a Honda Brio Amaze. However, while he’s starting to work his way up the racing ladder, Jakraphan has a track on his CV that the majority of drivers here don’t have on theirs, that’s Silverstone Circuit, one of the world’s most famous and historic grand prix venues.

And his ‘road’ to Silverstone was also a slightly unusual one too – that’s because he was one of the five finalists last year in the Thai division of the ‘Nissan GT Academy’.

The Nissan GT Academy is a driver discovery and development programme, which is a collaboration between the carmaker and the popular ‘Grand Turismo’ computer game. The ubiquitous simulators have been seen around Thailand at events such as the Bangkok Motor Show where thousands of hopefuls have tried to set a laptime that would see them shortlisted for the finals.

The first stage consisted of an online qualification process and that sent the winners to national finals where they were put through their paces as drivers with not just skill but fitness and other metrics being measured before the top entrants from across Europe, North America, Asia and other international regions were sent to a ‘Race Camp’ at Silverstone.

For Jakraphan being one of the Nissan GT Academy finalists was a good chance to progress his career upwards. “I first started racing around four years ago, starting from club race events,” he said. “In 2014 I have a good chance in the Nissan GT Academy event in Thailand and I’m one in five representatives from Thailand to go to Silverstone circuit for [the] international race camp reality event.”

Last year he also drove the Brio amaze in some club racing events with good results and that, together with the additional training from the Nissan GT Academy, set him up well to join Super Eco. And it seems to be paying off too, Jakraphan has nailed down three third place finishes from the first four Super Eco races of the year – already he’s established himself as one of the front-runners in the highly competitive and fast growing arena of ‘eco’ car racing.