James Baldwin took out the “World’s Fastest Gamer” contest in Los Angeles last year, edging out expert sim racers in a series of digital and real-world racers.
Baldwin’s prize was a contract to race a McLaren for former F1 world champion Jenson Button in the British GT Championship.
The 22-year-old-gamer won his first real-world race last weekend, taking a trophy in at Oulton Park.
Baldwin impressed in qualifying then raced to third place before handing the car over to co-driver Michael O’Brien, who took the chequered flag.
Baldwin said he was “elated” to win on debut.
World’s Fastest Gamer founder Darren Cox said Baldwin’s result was proof “there is a direct link between outright speed in exports racing and speed on the racetrack”.
“We’ve never seen a gamer like this arrive in professional racing and win on debut,” Cox said.
“That is groundbreaking.
“This is not only a testament to the incredible talent that we unearthed in James but also a result of the advances in sim racing – the similarities between the cars in the game and cars on the track are getting closer and closer.”
Cox was the boss of Nissan Motorsport when the Japanese brand paired with Sony and Gran Turismo to create the Nismo GT Academy, a contest intended to turn gamers into racers.
The program returned strong results – including a Le Mans podium and Bathurst 12 hour victory, each with two gamers in the driving crew – but was dropped by Nissan in 2016.
Sony replaced the GT Academy with the Gran Turismo Sport series, an international championship for gamers that does not involve real-world racing.