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HPD JAS Esports Academy Gears Up for GT World Challenge Esports Championships

21 May 2021
  • North American and European HPD JAS Esports Academy Pro Team drivers announced after global qualification process
  • Season begins May 22 with three-hour endurance classic at Monza for European Union drivers and sprint event at Kyalami for North American racers
  • HPD expands its commitment to cultivating next generation of racing talent through new sim-racing academy

Honda Performance Development (HPD), the leader of Honda and Acura high-performance motorsports programs in North America, together with European-based JAS Motorsport will kick off the first race of the 2021 GT World Challenge Esports season this weekend with the newly-formed HPD JAS Esports Academy Pro Team. 

The selection process kicked off earlier this month with drivers from across the globe entering the HPD JAS Esports Academy qualifiers to showcase their speed, pace, and racecraft aboard the virtual Acura NSX GT3 Evo in Assetto Corsa Competizione. HPD narrowed down the candidates and conducted driver interviews to learn more about each driver’s racing strategy, experience, aptitude, and real-world and sim-racing aspirations in order to select team members for the 2021 HPD JAS Esports Academy program.

In North America, HPD and JAS Motorsport are excited to announce Zach Patterson, Josh Staffin, and Cardin Lu as the team’s Academy drivers, led by HPD GT3 Academy graduate Karl Wittmer. Wittmer’s extensive real-world track time in the championship-winning NSX GT3 Evo through the 2020 HPD GT3 Driver Academy will bring integral experience to the North American team. Working closely with Patterson, Staffin, and Lu, Wittmer will provide individualized guidance and support to increase each driver’s performance and learning, in addition to serving as the fourth driver in Sprint competition. Patterson provides an analytical approach to his sim racing and finished first overall in the region’s qualifying race. Staffin offers extensive experience in the virtual NSX GT3 Evo and valuable knowledge about ACC with his time spent as a Champion Motorsport admin. Lu joins as the youngest team member with excellent speed and pace that compliments the team’s seasoned members. 

“It’s a great honor to represent HPD in the virtual world once again. HPD has played a monumental role in my development over the years and I’m looking forward to sharing my real world knowledge with our newly formed e-sports team,” says Karl Wittmer, Team Leadre, HPD JAS Esports Academy Pro Team. “I truly believe in the drivers we have selected together and I’m excited to see our progression and performance as the season kicks off.”

The HPD JAS Pro America team will compete in all Sprint rounds, and pair up for Endurance events with HPD GT3 Academy drivers when needed. Their first challenge will be a one-hour sprint race at Kyalami this Saturday, May 22nd at 4pm EDT, where the real world NSX GT3 Evo has shown to be a contender. 

In Europe, two drivers have been selected to compete in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance series. Nicolas Hillebrand and Ben Creanor will team up with JAS Motorsport Driver Development team members throughout the season. Hillebrand, an economics student hailing from Germany, exhibited both speed and poise under pressure in the qualifications process. He’ll be joined by Euro Nascar’s youngest driver, Ben Creanor from the UK. Creanor brings both real-world and sim racing experience, proving to be an ideal candidate for the program. Hillebrand and Creanor will also be joined by JAS development drivers for future Endurance races.

The HPD JAS Pro Europe team also kicks off this Saturday, May 22nd at 17:00 CEST with a three-hour endurance race at the Temple of Speed known as Monza. A two-car effort will see Hillebrand and Creanor team up in the #94 car, with American teammates Karl Wittmer and Josh Staffin joining the race in the sister #93 car. 

HPD JAS Asia team members will be announced in the coming weeks, as the Asia-Pacific Endurance season kicks off in July.

Tune-in to all the GT World Challenge Esports action at or on Facebook at @gtworldchallengeeurope and @gtworldchallengeamerica.