- Gran Turismo®6 gamers have the chance to become a Nissan NISMO racing driver
- Previous GT Academy champions now racing in GP3 and Le Mans 24 Hours
PARIS AND LONDON – Nissan and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe have announced that gamer-to-real-racer competition the NISMO PlayStation® GT Academy returns for a sixth installment in 2014. Online qualifying on PlayStation's Gran Turismo®6 game begins on April 21.
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. Briton Jann Mardenborough, a Le Mans 24-hour podium finisher, will compete in Formula One feeder series GP3 in 2014. His meteoric rise since winning GT Academy in 2011 sees him racing for Arden International while also undertaking a Red Bull Racing Driver Development Program.
Meanwhile, inaugural-winner, Spaniard 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 (Belgium) will also contest this summer's Le Mans 24 Hour race in Nissan's fascinating ZEOD RC 'Garage 56' entry.
Fuelled by this success, GT Academy's global footprint continues to grow. Champions will be selected in 2014 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 Program, 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 grueling Dubai 24 Hour race in January next year.
NISMO's Global Head of Brand Marketing and Sales, Darren Cox, commented: "Nissan and NISMO are proud to launch the sixth installment 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."
About GT Academy 2014
GT Academy is a collaboration between PlayStation® and Nissan that uses the virtual world of the Gran Turismo®6 game to unearth real-world racing talent. Now in its sixth year, GT Academy includes separate competitions for Europe (France, Italy, UK, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Poland and Czech Republic), Germany, USA, and a new International group (Australia, India, Middle East, Mexico and Thailand).
The GT Academy qualification round will be part of a free Gran Turismo®6 update on PlayStation®3 (terms and conditions apply). The fastest gamers in each participating territory gain access to their region's National Final event. A number of competitors can also gain access via a series of Live Gran Turismo events organized locally, and via an Facebook game entry mechanism that leads to a special GT6TM qualifying event. The National Finals add driving, fitness and a media element to the gaming.
From National Finals, the action moves to Silverstone for the legendary Race Camp, where the competitors are put through their paces on track in Nissan sports cars under the watchful eyes of high profile judges and mentors. One winner from each competition will be invited to take part in the intensive Driver Development Program. They could qualify for an international race license and race for Nissan at the Dubai 24 Hours in January 2015, before potentially joining Nissan's elite NISMO Athletes.
Previous winners of GT Academy are now regular racing drivers. In 2014, Jann Mardenborough (UK, winner in 2011) will be racing in GP3, a feeder series to Formula One, with the championship-winning Arden International team. Lucas Ordoñez (Spain, winner in 2008) will be racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours this year in the innovative Nisan ZEOD RC, alongside Wolfgang Reip (Belgium, winner in 2012). In 2013, Lucas won the Pro-Am Drivers Championship in the Blancpain Endurance Series. The 2013 Champions, Stanislav Aksenov (Russia), Miguel Faisca (Europe), Nick McMillen (USA) and Florian Strauss (Germany) are competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series with the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN.
About the Gran Turismo® Franchise
Gran Turismo® celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2013, having first appeared internationally in 1998. The multi-award-winning franchise has been the most successful ever for PlayStation®, and in 2013 it also surpassed worldwide sales of 70 million units. Various iterations of Gran Turismo have been created for PlayStation®, PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 and PSP (PlayStation® Portable), and have always been regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulators ever created due to true-to-life graphics, authentic physics technology and design. Since the inception of Gran Turismo, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital Inc. in Japan have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the most realistic driving simulation in the industry and a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products. Gran Turismo®6, the latest iteration of the game, was released on December 6, 2013.
# # #