Earlier this month we were treated to our first look at Gran Turismo 6 in an extended demo, which also acted as the qualifying stage for the GT Academy 2013, Polyphony's annual competition that gives Gran Turismo gamers the opportunity to become a fully fledged racing driver for the fifth year running.
As of last Sunday, entries for this year's GT Academy have officially closed. It was a successful run to say the least: the demo was downloaded by over 1.3 million users, clocking in over 750,000 entries from 18 participating countries, with 148,984 racing hopefuls from the UK.
As the competition continues, 16 virtual racers victorious in the online time trial will now link up with eight winners from the Goodwood Festival of Speed and The O2 Wild Card 'Live Events' to take part in a live National Final at Silverstone Circuit on August 12 and 13.
The National Finals will comprise of a Gran Turismo gaming event to test the competitors virtual driving skills, before pitting them behind the wheel of a Nissan Nismo performance car to test their racing prowess on the track, along with a series of fitness and personality tests to determine if they have what it takes to become a professional racing driver both physically and mentally.
“The online qualifying demo on GT6 has been very well received and the numbers of entries to GT Academy is phenomenal,” commented Usama Al-Qassab, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s VP of Product Marketing.
"After National Finals the action moves to Silverstone and, of course, these ultra-fast gamers will know exactly where to go having completed so many virtual laps there on the GT6 demo! Real driving starts to take over in GT Academy from National Finals, and we are looking forward to working with Nissan and Nismo as they implement some sophisticated performance tests for the gamers.”
Now in its fifth year, the GT Academy has been a monumental success story, with many of its champions going on to achieve podium positions at Le Mans – this year two former GT Academy winners finished in fourth place, only to be promoted to third following the disqualification of the G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan surpassing the permitted fuel tank capacity.
Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport Darren Cox expressed his enthusiasm towards the GT Academy, and will be assessing the 2013 crop. “GT Academy has been responsible for unearthing some fantastic racing talent and we have the results to prove it. With so many entrants this year and increasing levels of realism from GT6, we are absolutely confident that there will be some huge talent among these gamers. With our experience over the past five years of GT Academy, and increasingly sophisticated and innovative tests developed in conjunction with Nismo, we know how to ensure that the best talent will rise to the top over the coming weeks. There is a lot to play for. We have recently announced that previous champions will be racing or testing in Australia, the USA and Japan, and we had all six Nismo Athletes in action at the Spa 24 Hours just last weekend.”
Entries for the GT Academy 2013 may now officially be over, but don't discard the demo just yet. The GT6 demo will remain playable until the end of August, and a final challenge with a Nissan GTR GT3 will automatically unlock on August 29th.
We also have a special interview with GT Academy 2011 winner Jann Mardenborough coming soon on the channel, so stay tuned.