Nissan and PlayStation will hold their fourth GT Academy in 2012. The program trains gamers to race real cars competitively and will expand to include the United States, Russia, Germany and Europe. This year’s contest will start on May 1 and remains open until June 24
More than 1.5 million gamers have competed in the contest since 2008. Former winners have grabbed a podium finish at Le Mans and have won an Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and a Blancpain Endurance Series race.
This past weekend, GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough raced with Chris Ward and Alex Buncombe to a 34th-place overall finish at Monza. The trio worked their way up to 12th place after two hours but dropped back in the final third of the race.
A new format will greet this year’s players. An eight-step qualification can be played online with the PlayStation 3 and Gran Turismo 5. The fastest players from each country will join winners from live events to compete in the finals in July. Those winners will be flown to the Silverstone Circuit in England to compete in Race Camp. The ultimate winner, like last year, will get a seat for the Dubai 24 Hours in January 2013.
The GT Academy is now an avenue into the racing world. Lucas Ordoñez, the 2008 winner, took second place at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans and will race this year with father-son team Martin and Alex Brundle. He will also contest the full European Le Mans calendar in an LMP2 car. Jordan Tresson won GT Academy in 2010, and now he’s racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Signatech Nissan LMP2 car. Last year’s Europe winner, Mardenborough, is driving a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 car in the Blancpain Series, while last year’s American winner is in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Challenge Series.
“The GT Academy has exceeded our original expectations, and each year has provided us with some outstanding driving talent,” said Darren Cox, general manager of Nissan Europe. “As our drivers continue to impress on a world stage, GT Academy continues to expand. I would urge anyone that feels they have the talent to get involved and give it a go.”
Aspiring drivers can go to www.facebook.com/GTAcademy to find out how to compete for a race seat in the 2013 season.