Nissan and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe have joined forces to bring Gran Turismo fans the ultimate competition. Called GT Academy 2010, it will go live on 17 December, and will use the virtual world of the new PlayStation Gran Turismo 5 game to find a real-world racing driver. Prize? The winner gets to swap his dirty sofa for a snug race bucket with safety harness in an intensive race training programme and a season-long drive in a the European GT4 Cup! He or she will be driving a full race-spec Nissan 370Z. Think of this as the car enthusiast’s Idol singing competition.
In the inaugural GT Academy 2008/09, Lucas Ordoñez, a 23-year-old Spanish student, graduated from his PlayStation 3 to debut in the Dubai International 24 Hour race alongside former F1 driver Johnny Herbert. He then teamed-up with British driver Alex Buncombe to campaign a Nissan 350Z in the European GT4 Cup, which runs alongside the FIA GT series. Driving for the RJN Motorsport GT Academy team, their season included two race wins and two second-place finishes that left them second in the drivers’ classification and winners of the Teams’ Championship – proof that the world of virtual racing can unearth a real racing talent!
The GT Academy is open to participants from 15 European countries, Australia and New Zealand. Anyone who holds, or has held, a national or international race license is ineligible. I reckon that had the competition been open to Malaysia, one of our own would be going very far!