The fourth instalment of the highly acclaimed virtual-to-reality racing competition is open to anyone with a PlayStation®3 console by simply downloading a free and brand-new GT Academy qualification challenge themed around the hugely popular Gran Turismo® game. With the ultimate racing prize at stake – an intensive Driver Development training programme that has helped turn previous winners into professional racing drivers with Nissan – a huge entry list is expected for this year’s competition.
All competitors need is access to a PS3TM connected to the internet and to be registered to the PlayStation®Network. The eight-step online qualification format, developed especially by legendary Gran Turismo® creator Kazunori Yamauchi, will take gamers and motorsport fans on a fun and exciting journey. The variety of challenges reflects the various driving skills required to master the fine art of becoming a professional racing driver. Entrants have eight weeks to complete these adrenaline-fuelled driving contests, ranging from handling powerful Nissan rear-wheel-drive performance cars and mastering cornering techniques at high speeds, through to setting lap times in wet and challenging conditions.
Whether players are enjoying the award-winning Gran Turismo for the first time, or are hardened PlayStation racers, the GT Academy qualification offers racing action for everyone. It’s not just about competing with the best GT5 racers, as players can also challenge friends, colleagues and family for bragging rights by monitoring scores via ‘PSN Friends Lists’.
“This time around, we’ve designed a GT Academy qualification format as part of the Gran Turismo series on an unprecedented scale and aimed towards a wide variety of players,” explained Kazunori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital.
“This title may be free, but it is a truly independent piece of work and marks a place for itself along our path from GT5 to GT6.”
“I felt that the only way to really do it right for the fourth GT Academy was to create a format where not only veteran Gran Turismo players, but also players who have never tried a driving simulator before, can experience the depth of race driving and the fun and excitement of time trials.”
Darren Cox, General Manager Nissan in Europe, added: “It is great to see a range of Nissan cars added to this year’s online qualification process, as well as new challenges that relate closely to GT Academy’s goal of turning PlayStation gamers into real racers. Yamauchi-san’s knowledge and passion for racing shines through in the various stages of this exciting new Gran Turismo special download.”
“In 2012 more people than ever before will have the opportunity to move from the virtual world to driving real Nissan cars at National Finals and then Race Camp. It is encouraging that they will be better prepared than ever before as a result of these new ‘virtual’ qualification challenges.”
Anyone from a participating country, aged 18 or over, holding a full driving licence, and eligible under the terms and conditions of the competition, can enter GT Academy 2012. The online qualification stage of GT Academy runs until the early hours of Monday, 25 June, 2012 in Europe (closing at 2359 hrs BST on 24 June being 0059 CEST on 25 June). The fastest 16 online gamers from each territory will qualify for National Final events. A maximum of 16 further National Final places will be up for grabs via a series of ‘Live Event’ GT5 competitions.
A total of six winners will emerge from each participating GT Academy territory to attend the GT Academy ‘Race Camp’ at Silverstone – a ‘boot camp’ for aspiring racing drivers. The 2012 GT Academy Champion will then be put through one of the most advanced ‘Driver Development’ programmes in the world in preparation for competing in the prestigious Dubai International 24 Hour Race in a full race-spec Nissan 370Z GT4 car.
Demonstrating the success of GT Academy as a route into top-level motor sport, the previous winners – Lucas Ordoñez, Jordan Tresson, Jann Mardenborough and Bryan Heitkotter – are all competing in full race programmes for Nissan during 2012. Only one question remains: who will be the winner of this year’s GT Academy?