At precisely 15.20 BST on Monday, over 7500 Gran Turismo gamers lined up on a virtual starting grid in a unique 3-way simultaneous race that saw F1 legend David Coulthard put his driving reputation on the line in a real versus virtual driving battle quite unlike any other.
Coulthard’s real-life challenge on the Dunsfold circuit, better known as the Top Gear Test Track, was beamed live via internet to thousands, he was joined at the track by F1 race commentator Martin Brundle who presented the live race action.
Meanwhile at Brooklands, Mercedes-Benz’s UK flagship experience location, six anxious competition winning contestants sat awaiting the starting flag with motor racing commentator Jonathan Legard doing his best as compere to calm fraying nerves. The second set of virtual would be giant-killers were the hordes of GT5 gamers joining the race from home in a specially created in-game seasonal event – the Mercedes Benz Driving Event.
Standing between the gamers (and Coulthard) and glory was a tense 15 minute F1-style time attack on the famously challenging track.
In the end it was an incredibly close race, but experience won. Coulthard managed to set an unbelievably quick time of 1’16.320, before cooling his tyres and spinning off as rain started to fall. It was enough to see off the challenge of the winning driver at the Brooklands event, Jason Birt who managed a more than respectable 1’16.868.
Even if his duel with the ex-F1 driver ended in a narrow defeat, Jason now has the rather sweet consolation prize of all expenses paid trip to the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix to look forward to.
Commenting on his experience an elated Jason said;
“This has been a real buzz,” he said. “It has been a very impressive day with the off-road, SLS and drifting experiences this morning and then the GT5 racing has been excellent. I only got the call on Thursday to say that I was taking part and so I am really happy to have won the virtual race and be going to Brazil. Shame I didn’t get to beat DC, but he is a real pro and it would have been quite a feat to beat him. A massive thank you to Mercedes-Benz and PlayStation for making this happen.”
Highlights of the event can be viewed at www.mercedesliverace.co.uk.
Gran Turismo 5 is now available in the Platinum range and the Mercedes-Benz Driving Event is available in GT5 until 23.59BST 26th September with the live leaderboard viewable throughout this time on gran-turismo.com.