Tony O'Kane | May 7, 2008

So, you think you're pretty good at Gran Turismo? Reckon you can ace every licence test? Think you know the braking point of every corner on every track? Have you ever completed, let alone attempted, the Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race without resorting to B-Spec mode? If you answered "yes", then Polyphony Digital have got one hell of a competition for you.

Called GT Academy, the competition offers two Gran Turismo die-hards an opportunity to show off their racing skills in a real-life venue using a real-life car. Real-life damage and the threat of real-life injury are presumably part of the deal too. The competition requires entrants to compete in a series of elimination rounds "both on and off the racetrack", and will most likely involve driving the stickered-up R35 GT-R you see pictured.

The prize winners will receive four months training and instruction to earn an actual racing license, after which they will have the opportunity to participate in the 2009 24-hour Dubai enduro in a competition-spec 350Z. The competition will run for eight months on Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and entry is limited to European players only. Dang.

Press release below:

PLAYSTATION & NISSAN UNVEIL GT ACADEMY

London, 6 May 2008: Industry leaders PlayStation and Nissan have come together to create the ultimate competitive driving test - GT Academy. The eight-month, pan-European competition sees virtual and real-life racing merge to make the wildest dreams of two aspiring race drivers come true. The prize: a four-month training programme to earn their racing licences, followed by a real-life race driving a Nissan 350Z as part of the Nissan team at the 24H endurance race in Dubai in January 2009.

To earn a place in GT Academy, candidates will face a series of elimination-based competitions on and off the racetrack - starting at a national level with an online GT5 Prologue tournament hosted on PLAYSTATION®Network.

GT Academy builds on the long-standing partnership between PlayStation and Nissan that began with Nissan working with Gran Turismo developers Polyphony Digital. Nissan provided vehicles, racing drivers and feedback to help perfect the game's ultra-realistic driving simulation.

Roles were reversed in 2007 when Nissan called upon Polyphony Digital to design the interface for the onboard computer for the GT-R, Nissan's new supercar. The 'multifunction meter' provides drivers with updates on the car's performance and systems – a collaboration recognised as a motoring industry first. In the latest game, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue on PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™), Nissan's GT-R joins a garage filled with 71 dream cars including seven other top Nissan sports cars.

Speaking at PlayStation Day, David Reeves, President and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe said:

"Gran Turismo is one of the most successful global gaming franchises of the last decade and is renowned for its realism, quality of design and in-car physics technology. PlayStation is now part of the global motor sport community from its games to its Gran Turismo TV channel – and now the GT Academy. The academy brings the real and virtual worlds of racing together and is the ultimate test to see if virtual drivers have what it takes to race in a competitive environment where there isn't the option to play again."

Simon Sproule, Corporate Vice President, Global Communications, Nissan Motor Ltd, added:

"We're delighted to build on the close relationship between Nissan and Sony PlayStation. This represents the competition prize of a lifetime for racing enthusiasts; a prize that brings the worlds of gaming and racing even closer together. We look forward to welcoming our new team drivers for the race in Dubai."

GT Academy goes live at the end of May. Entrants must register, via their PS3s, on the PLAYSTATION®Network (PSN) to compete in the special online tournament. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue on PS3 has sold over one million units since its launch, with the Gran Turismo franchise now having sold more than 50 million units worldwide.

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