Australia's Nissan GT Academy winner Matt Simmons is primed for the biggest challenge of his brief career to date as he suits up for the 24 Hours of Spa.
Fast-tracked into the Blancpain Endurance Series this year after winning the Playstation-based Academy, this weekend sees the former Brisbane postie thrust into the world's biggest GT race.
Simmons is sharing a GT-R with his BES co-drivers Sean Walkinshaw, Romain Sarazin and Spa addition Riccardo Sanchez amid a packed 65-strong grid.
The 27-year-old Simmons has had a challenging initiation into real life racing, tangling with a rival during the early stages of the most recent race at Paul Ricard.
While the 7km Spa venue is a daunting prospect for any rookie, Simmons heads into the week with the benefit of already sampling the venue at an official test earlier in the month.
He will gain further track time later today during further additional sessions for Bronze rated drivers and race rookies.
“Spa is special, for sure. You feel it when you arrive to the circuit and see it all,” said Simmons of his experience at the test.
“It is unique, very fast and challenging.
“My favourite section is easily Eau Rouge. This is as raw as it gets, feeling the force on your body at the bottom and then wanting to take off over the top – it's an incredible feeling.
“It literally took my breath away the first few laps but I kept my eyes open.”
Simmons said that the pre-event test, held on July 5, has left him as well prepared as possible heading into the event.
“Our test day was very productive,” he said.
“We did about 90 laps in total. I got 25 laps and we ticked all the objectives so I feel ready to hit the ground running at the Bronze test session.”
Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen is meanwhile the only Kiwi in the race and is among the hot favourites for victory.