The GT Academy competition has attracted over three million entries since its inception in 2008, with gamers and motor sport fans battling it out for the chance to become the next NISMO Athlete, one of the elite racing drivers competing for Nissan under the banner of its motor sport arm, NISMO.
Proof of the success of the virtual-to-reality competition can be seen in the stunning on-track results of its graduates. For example Jann Mardenborough, a Le Mans 24-hour podium finisher, will compete in the GP3 series in 2014. His meteoric rise since winning the GT Academy in 2011 sees him racing for Arden International while also undertaking a Red Bull Racing Driver Development Programme.
Meanwhile, inaugural-winner, Lucas Ordoñez takes his talents overseas in 2014 to race for NISMO in the competitive Japanese Super GT Championship. Lucas and 2012 GT Academy champion Wolfgang Reip will also compete in this summer’s Le Mans 24 Hour race in Nissan’s fascinating ZEOD RC ‘Garage 56′ entry.
For 2014 champions will be selected from competitions in Europe, Germany, USA and a new International GT Academy comprising Australia, India, Middle East, Mexico and Thailand. After completing an intensive three-month Driver Development Programme, rated among the best in the world, the five global GT Academy 2014 champions will qualify for the ultimate prize – driving a Nissan in the Dubai 24 Hour race in January next year.
Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox, commented, “Nissan and NISMO are proud to launch the sixth instalment of GT Academy with our friends at PlayStation and Polyphony Digital. Six years ago this innovative approach was seen as a risk, but it is now a firmly established route to professional motorsport. GT Academy started in Europe but is now expanding globally with new editions being launched in several emerging markets. To highlight the global nature, our European winners have become NISMO Athletes and are racing across the globe in several top level championships. We are looking forward to discovering even more new stars in 2014. Anyone who thinks they have what it takes should give GT Academy a go. Not everyone can win, but the experience is hugely rewarding at every stage of the competition.”
Kazunori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital, explained: “I am very proud that GT Academy has returned for its sixth season, and that Gran Turismo together with Nissan will once again serve as the platform for the development of new racing drivers, whom otherwise would not have had the chance to pursue their dreams. Even if you don’t make it through to the next round of GT Academy, the GT6 qualifying challenge will improve your skills as a driver and all players taking part will be rewarded with in-game credits to enhance their experience.”