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GT Academy

Successful "Gamer-To-Racer" GT Academy Programme Launches in South Africa

A Series of Gran Turismo-based challenges will start the process on the 15th October

Nissan and PlayStation® have joined forces again to expand the innovative GT Academy virtual-to-reality racing competition, which has previously enjoyed great success in Europe and America. The four previous GT Academy graduates continue to compete in top-level race series, whilst the programme that set them on their path to motor sport fame will now incorporate a competition covering South Africa and the Middle East for the first time.

Over 2.3 million hopefuls have tried out for GT Academy since 2008, and graduates of the virtual-to-reality programme have so far netted a second place finish at the legendry Le Mans 24 Hour race, a championship win in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and most recently a podium finish in the World Endurance Championship. In January of this year an all-gamer line-up made history when they finished on the podium of the Dubai 24 hour race.

An exclusive, free to download gaming format will go live on 15th October, 2012 and remain open until 10th December. An eight-step qualification programme, that can be played online by anyone with a PlayStation®3 (PS3™), will use the best-selling Gran Turismo®5 as a base, but has been specially developed by the game’s legendary creator, Kazunori Yamauchi.

The fastest PlayStation® gamers from South Africa will join winners from a number of live events to compete in a thrilling national final in January. The action will then make the transition from the virtual world of PS3™ to real Nissan sports cars when the winners of the National competition are invited to take part in the international Race Camp competition along with the finalists from the Middle East competition at Silverstone Circuit in March.

The ultimate winner of the GT Academy competitions from Race Camp will then be put through an incredibly intensive and thorough Driver Development Programme to prepare them for the chance to take part in the challenging Silverstone 24 Hours in 2013 – the ultimate competition prize.

GT Academy is now established as a potential route into top-level motor sport. Lucas Ordoñez (Spain, winner in 2008) took second place at the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hour race. Lucas also contested the full European Le Mans Series in the Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan LMP2 car. Jordan Tresson (France, winner in 2010) is racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours in the Signatech Nissan LMP2 car. Jann Mardenborough (UK, winner in 2011) has just completed a successful season in the British GT Championship racing a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, nearly clinching the championship in his first season of racing. His American counterpart, Bryan Heitkotter, has been successfully competing in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series in the top GS (Grand Sport) class.

“Being able to use our GT Academy graduates in our ever-growing range of top-level motor sport activities is another example of Nissan’s innovative approach to everything we do,” explains Darren Cox, General Manager Nissan in Europe. “If we didn’t believe in the drivers they wouldn’t be in those seats, but GT Academy has exceeded our original expectations and each year has provided us with some outstanding driving talent. 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. GT Academy is a real, credible and exciting route into motor sport that will not cost you anything thanks to our partnership with PlayStation®.”

Kazunori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital, adds: “It makes me very proud to see the graduates of GT Academy racing around the world with Nissan. This year we are aiming to make GT Academy bigger and better than ever before and so I am creating a new series of driving challenges open to anyone with a PS3™ . You don’t have to be an expert to have a go. Added to that, each country will host live GT Academy entry events to ensure that as many people as possible can enter the 2012 GT Academy”.