This weekend, at the world famous Le Mans 24 Hours, two former GT Academy Champions, Lucas Ordoñez and Jann Mardenborough, both raced in a Nissan-powered LMP2 car recording an impressive 4th place finish in class. Ordoñez and Mardenborough are among the elite band of Nismo Athletes who have successfully challenged the traditional route into motorsport as graduates of GT Academy – a unique collaboration that leverages the virtual world of the Gran Turismo game to unearth real-world racing talent for Nissan’s race team.
GT Academy 2013, the biggest competition in its history, will officially kick off with qualifications starting Tuesday, July 2, and ending Sunday, July 28, at 3:59 p.m. PST. The only way to qualify is by downloading the demo for PlayStation 3 and racing for the best qualifying times to advance to National Finals, where they’ll compete for a place in the Silverstone race camp to determine one ultimate winner from each country. This year, the stakes are even higher as players will get on the testing grounds with a new demo from the unreleased Gran Turismo 6 game for PlayStation 3, giving fans around the world a sneak peek into the biggest racing game of the year.
The demo will remain available to play even after the competition concludes until Aug. 31 and is open to all Gran Turismo fans, including gamers who do not wish to enter the 2013 GT Academy contest.
Kazunori Yamauchi, creator of the Gran Turismo series, has set an interesting challenge for Gran Turismo entrants featuring stunningly re-created Nissan cars including the Leaf, 370Z and GT-R. The GT6 demo will guide players through beginner rounds of a GT Academy-themed race camp before unlocking the final qualifying event featuring the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, making GT Academy equally accessible to Gran Turismo novices and experts alike. Anyone who registers and submits a qualifying time will receive free bonus content.
GT Academy in the United States, along with Russia and Germany, will each have standalone qualifying contests to designate the countries’ top Gran Turismo drivers. Europe’s 2013 Academy includes France, Italy, UK, Spain, Portugal, Benelux, Nordics (Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway) and CEE (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia). The winners of each of the GT Academy competitions will then be put through an incredibly intensive and thorough Driver Development Program, rated among the best in the world, in order to qualify for the ultimate competition prize – a full season racing a Nissan GT-R GT3 NISMO in a top-level championship.
“GT Academy is testament to why Gran Turismo is the true racing simulator,” said Asad Qizilbash, senior director of product marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America. “The PlayStation community has proven time and time again that Gran Turismo’s racing mechanics translate to the real world of race car driving, with racers who first cut their teeth racing in Gran Turismo now competing on the world stage. We encourage gamers of all skill levels to enter the contest, not just to be among the first to play Gran Turismo 6, but also for a chance to turn their driving passion into a career in the race world.”
The innovative partnership between Nissan and Sony Computer Entertainment has attracted more than two million entrants since its inception in 2008, and has developed a number of successful racing drivers now competing for Nissan in top-level international motor sport.
“At the weekend, two former winners of GT Academy lined up in the Nissan-powered Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan LMP2 car to compete in arguably the greatest race in the world, the Le Mans 24 Hours, said Darren Cox, director of global motorsport at Nissan. “Their impressive 4th-place finish shows the phenomenal success of the GT Academy program and its world class Driver Development Program. There is no clearer demonstration of why it is worth entering GT Academy, as it could be you next. Even if you don’t make it that far, there is no harm in dreaming and racing some lovely Nissan cars in the GT6 demo.”
Eligible entrants within the participating countries will need a Sony Entertainment Network account and access to a PlayStation 3 connected to the internet. They can download the free qualifying GT6 demo from the PlayStation Store, with no ownership of the Gran Turismo game required. People without a PS3 can enter the competition via a series of GT Academy Live Events that will be promoted by PlayStation and Nissan locally.