On your marks!

Aussie student Daniel Holland will soon join contestants from around the world in a Silverstone training camp in a bid to make the transition from virtual racer to a real-life one. We caught up with him on how he got this far.

Two weeks ago, the Australians with the fastest lap times logged in the GT5 Time Trial Challenge convened in Melbourne to battle it out for a spot in the GT Academy boot camp in Silverstone.

Daniel Holland, a 25-year-old student from Melbourne, emerged victorious and kept his dream of a season-long stint in a GT4 European Cup team alive.

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CNET Australia: what do you drive?

Daniel Holland:  I don't have a car. I sold my Ford Falcon a few years ago.

Have you ever been on a race track or at a track day?

DH:  I drove a modified V8 Supercar around a track at 220km/h once.

Are you a racing fan?

DH:  Yeah, I love watching Formula One.

Who's your favourite driver?

DH:  Mark Webber.

Any reason for following Webber?

DH:  Well, because he's an Aussie. But, aside from that, he's a great person not just a race driver. Actually, I probably started watching F1 because of him.

Do you have any favourite cars?

DH:  Not really. I'm not much of a fan of driving cars in general. In fact, just driving any car is good enough for me.

How long have you been playing Gran Turismo?

DH:  About six years. I started really getting into it with GT4. I played GT1, GT2 and GT3, as well, but not very often.

What's your favourite car in GT?

DH:  The Toyota Minolta 88C-V race car from GT4.

What about road cars in GT?

DH:  BMW M3.

How did you get into racing games?

DH:  Through playing online racing games, like Colin McRae Rally and WRC.

What's your GT set-up like at home?

DH:  Nothing fancy. Just a table, chair and a Logitech Driving Force GT steering wheel.

What was the Australian GT Academy final like?

DH:  Nerve wracking actually because being the favourite meant a lot of pressure.

Did you know any of the guys you were competing against?

DH:  Yeah, I knew a few of them through forums. I also know some of the guys going to Silverstone, including one of the guys from France.

Are you doing anything to prepare yourself for the real-life boot camp at Silverstone?

DH:  A bit of fitness training, like running five kays every second or third day.

What advice did Glenn Seton give you guys?

DH:  He gave us a few pointers about entry and exit speeds. Also he talked about a few factors related to real-life race car driving, such as aerobic fitness, the general attitude required, as well as the importance of communication with the pit crew for car settings adjustment.

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The Australian GT Academy finalists battled for the Silverstone position through three stages. The quarter finals utilised the Indianapolis Speedway, Tokyo R246 and Fuji Speedway tracks. In the semis, the Daytona and Indy road courses were used. While for the final it was back to the fabled Indy Speedway. All participants raced in a virtual Nissan 370Z.

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Prep time

Practice laps were limited to one before the quarter finals, two before the semis and one prior to the finals.

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Pod me up

Finalists attacked the virtual tracks in a specially designed racing pod consisting of a Logitech G25 steering wheel, an unbranded racing seat, a Bravia LCD TV and a PS3 hidden underneath a faux engine cover.

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Glenn Seton

Two time Australian Touring Car champion Glenn Seton was on hand to give the virtual racers some tips about racing, as well as what life as a racing driver will entail.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sony Computer Entertainment
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