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GT Academy USA Winner Crowned!

2012 proved to be another successful year for the Nissan GT Academy in the United States, with over 400,000 applicants entered for this year's televised online gamer-to-racer competition. It was a long and hard fought seven months for all those who made the final at Silverstone, but there could only be one winner crowned.

This year saw the 29 year old Mechanic Steve Doherty from Plainfield Illinois take home the top prize. Steve competed in the GT Academy last year in the USA's first ever GT Academy competition, and made the finals, but finished just a mere six tenths off the top 16! He certainly showed a lot of heart and motivation to come back to the competition and once again perform at such a high level in a high pressure environment. "Today is the best day of my life, it just can't get any better than this, I finally got the dream job!" Doherty said reflecting on his achievement.

The final race to decide who would be champion was held on the Silverstone International Circuit and was a close fought four-way battle all the way through. Steve though, kept his cool from the start, got away from the line perfectly, had the lead into Abbey and never looked back, winning the race and setting a new GT Academy lap record of Silverstone in the process. All four finalists performed extremely well in a "winner takes all" situation and proved to be evenly matched as they were all in the same camera shot for the duration of the race.

After crossing the line and getting out of his race winning 370z, Steve couldn't quite believe what he had just accomplished. He was however quick to humbly praise his opponents for what was a real nail biting finale to the competition; "Just a little bit of luck carried me through this, any one of you guys could race anywhere and do really well" he admitted.

The prize for winning the GT Academy aside from a shiny red helmet is a drive in the RJN run Nissan GT Academy entry in the upcoming 2013 Dubai 24 Hours in January. This year will see a very impressive five GT Academy winners take on the eighth edition of the Middle-East's premiere endurance race as teammates! Alongside Steve will be: Lucas Ordonez (Inaugural GT Academy champion), Wolfgang Reip (European Champion), Peter Pyzera (German Champion) and Mark Shulzhitskiy (Russian Champion), as they look to take on the highly competitive SP3 class in two Nissan 370z's.

Steve is currently in the UK working hard to obtain an international racing licence while preparing for his debut as a GT driver next month and his future career in Motorsport. He has high hopes to take this opportunity and mimic the likes of Jann Mardenborough and Lucas Ordonez before him and become not only a successful professional racing driver, but also an ambassador for the sport.

You can catch up on the entire competition by watching all six episodes of the GT Academy USA 2012 TV show on Nissan USA's YouTube channel:

You can also follow the GT Academy drivers on their quest to win their class at Dubai on Motors TV starting from January 10th.

Stephen Kilbey