Kazunori Yamauchi

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Kazunori Yamauchi
Festival automobile international 2015 - Kazunori Yamauchi - 006.jpg
Yamauchi at the 30th International Automobile Festival in Paris, in 2015.
Born (1967-08-05) August 5, 1967 (age 49)
Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan

Kazunori Yamauchi (山内 一典 Yamauchi Kazunori?, born August 5, 1967) is a Japanese game designer, professional racing driver, and CEO of Polyphony Digital and producer of the Gran Turismo series.[1]

Polyphony Digital[edit]

He became the president of Polyphony Digital after designing his first game Motor Toon Grand Prix, a cartoon-inspired racing title similar to Mario Kart. Motor Toon Grand Prix later spawned a sequel, Motor Toon Grand Prix 2, which was the only game in the franchise released outside Japan. Since then, Yamauchi has fulfilled his dream of creating realistic driving simulators with his massively successful Gran Turismo series. He has also expressed interest in broadening out to other game genres; in 1999 Polyphony Digital released Omega Boost, a shoot 'em up title set in space, which has since proven to be Yamauchi's only foray outside of racing game development.

As a result of Gran Turismo success, Yamauchi has become an important figure in the worldwide automotive industry. For his help with promoting Volkswagen models in the series, the company gave him a Golf R32.[citation needed]. Polyphony Digital worked with Nissan to design the multifunction display (which relays various pieces of car data to the driver, including G-Force generated, torque distribution and lap times) found in the R35 GT-R.[2] The car as well as the display itself appear in the latest games in his franchise, Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo 6.[citation needed] He was given a Nissan GT-R for his contribution.[citation needed]

On a video included with Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, Yamauchi remarked his favorite car design is the Ford GT and he owns two in real life.[3]

A documentary focusing on Gran Turismo and Yamauchi called Kaz: Pushing the Virtual Divide, was released in January 22, 2014 on Hulu.[4]

Racing career[edit]

On August 29, 2009, he joined the World Car Awards team participating the SP8 class in race 8 of VLN piloting a Lexus IS-F on the Nürburgring. He clocked a fastest lap of 10 minutes 9 seconds which is the best in the team, and their team recorded a class win.[5][6] He returned to the Nürburgring track as one of the 4 drivers of Team World Car Award participating in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring 2010 and finished in 4th place in SP8 class.

Kazunori Yamauchi also was one of 4 drivers in the #96 Spoon Sports FD2 Civic Type-R during the 25 Hours Of Thunderhill which took place Dec. 5-6, 2009 - his first time driving in a US road course. The car placed 7th in its class, and 23rd position overall.

Yamauchi took part in the 2011 24 Hours of Nürburgring as one of the four drivers of the #71 Schulze Motorsport Nissan GT-R N24. The team finished the race in 36th place overall, achieving a victory in the SP 8T class after overcoming several technical problems, and beating competition from drivers including Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell.[citation needed]

For the 2012 24 Hours of Nürburgring, Yamauchi returned to Nissan, driving the #123 GT-R with Lucas Ordóñez, he finished 1st in the SP 8T class, and 30th overall.[7] Though the SP 8T entry that year only consisted of two cars, both of them are Nissan GT-Rs.

For the 2014 24 Hours of Nürburgring, he finished 12th in class, driving a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 with Jordan Tresson, Tobias and Michael Schulze.[8]

The 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hour race saw Yamauchi made the switch from Nissan to BMW where he piloted the #101 Walkenhorst Motorsport M6 GT3, and finished 22nd overall.


In 2013, Yamauchi had a street named in honor of him in the city of Ronda. Named “Paseo de Kazunori Yamauchi”, the street snakes around the Parador de Ronda. According to Ronda's city mayor Maria de la Paz Fernandez Lobato, "There is no doubt that his work has a huge cultural resonance with people today. He has driven the racing game genre to new levels of realism and his creations are as much art as technology. Ronda’s association with Gran Turismo is also a reflection that our ancient city is a modern, vibrant place to live and very much part of the 21st century.”[9]

In 2015, Yamauchi was awarded the “Grand Prize of Creativity” at the 30th International Automobile Festival in Paris, for his contributions to the automotive industry.[10]


External links[edit]