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Editor's Choice

Editor’s Choice: ‘Gran Turismo’ highlights tyre tech

The big movie of the month was inspired by a PlayStation game – and directed by a South African, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

This week’s Editor’s Choice is our first movie to earn the title. The accolade is given to products that represent a significant advance in technology, or a remarkable approach to innovation or user needs. ‘Gran Turismo’ is Editor’s Choice for a week starting 24 August 2023, thanks to its focus on both its video game origin and the showcasing of advanced tyre technology. This feature has been updated from the original review published two weeks ago.

The movie based on a Sony PlayStation game showcases not only Formula 1 cars in a different kind of action, but also the work of an acclaimed South African director.

Gran Turismo was directed by Neill Blomkamp, now living in Canada, who is best-known for co-writing and directing District 9, a science fiction movie set in Johannesburg. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also directed Chappie, starring South African alternative hip-hop group Die Antwoord, and the dystopian science fiction action film Elysium, which received moderately positive reviews.

The Sony Pictures movie is based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough, who won the Nissan Gran Turismo Academy competition in 2011 and went on to become a professional race car driver. In the movie, Nissan is Jann’s sponsor, and he drives a Nissan GT-R in the Gran Turismo World Finals. Mardenborough was only 19 he participated in the GT Academy contest and beat 90,000 other entrants. He became the third and youngest winner of the competition, and was awarded a drive with Nissan at the Dubai 24 Hour race.

The Gran Turismo movie is a great example of how a video game can inspire real-world events. The Nissan GT Academy competition was created to give gamers the chance to become professional race car drivers, and Mardenborough is just one of many gamers who have gone on to successful racing careers thanks to the competition.

Gran Turismo stars Archie Madekwe as the young gamer, Jann, a struggling working-class kid who lives in a trailer park with his father. He is passionate about racing, but has no money to pursue his dream – and has to battle the skepticism of those around him. But then he wins a contest to compete in a GT tournament, with the chance of going on to race in Formula 1.

It’s a heartwarming story about following your dreams and never giving up on your goals. It is also a visually stunning film that features amazing car races. And it fills audiences with hope.

The screenplay was written by Jason Hall and Zach Baylin. The cast includes David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, and Djimon Hounsou.

Two automotive brands with a close affinity to technology play a key role in the movie: Nissan and Michelin. Nissan is a major sponsor of the movie, and its cars are featured prominently. Michelin, the leading tire manufacturer, also plays a crucial role.

In addition to being featured in the film, Michelin worked closely with the production team to ensure that its tires were portrayed accurately. The company provided technical advice and support, and  helped develop the special effects used to create the tire smoke and skid marks seen in the movie.

In one scene, Jann is racing in the rain. His opponents are using different brands of tires, while he is using Michelin, which provide the grip he needs to stay on the track. It highlights how Michelin tires are designed to provide superior grip and performance in all weather conditions.

Mirko Pirracchio, Michelin Motorsport tyre advisor and operations manager, coordinated and followed all operations during the filming of the movie on several circuits between Central Europe and the Middle East. Gran Turismo was filmed on location on real racetracks around the world, including the Slovakia Ring, the Dubai Autodrome, the Nürburgring in Germany, the Red Bull Ring in Austria, and the Hungaroring.

All cars are fitted with Michelin tyres, specifically the Pilot Sport 4S and Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tyres. For scenes that feature particularly high-performance racing cars, Michelin fitted what it terms “confidential” tyres, which pack some of the same cutting-edge technologies as those that compete at Le Mans in real life.

Michelin’s involvement included providing the world’s most advanced racing tyres, the fruit of the company’s expertise in the field of mathematical tyre modeling, and of the smart data it collects in real-world international motor racing.

As a data-driven business, the group has also invested in the most innovative and sophisticated simulation technologies for its work alongside its numerous automobile manufacturer partners as they develop new models. The real-world latest-generation Hypercar and GTP prototypes for Le Mans, FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship all race on Michelin tyres that were developed entirely in virtual form on a simulator.

* For more information on the role played by Michelin the movie, visit:

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