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This is either the stupidest idea ever or the most brilliant co-promotion for two brands in the history of mankind. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, the distributor of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue across the pond, and Nissan are joining forces to host a competition that could place a really good gamer behind the seat of a real Nissan 350Z at a very real 24-hour endurance race in Dubai. The competition is called GT Academy, and the first round will be an online GT5 Prologue tournament hosted on the PLAYSTATION Network (for Europeans only, we presume). Based on the picture provided, it appears that entrants will be racing a Nissan GT-R in a special livery when the competition begins later this month. The rest of the competition will span some eight months, at the end of which the winner will receive a four-month training program to earn actual racing licenses. With his or her newfound knowledge of real physics and how actual damage occurs, the winner will then be given a stint behind the wheel of a Nissan 350Z in the 24-hour endurance race in Dubai.

Based on the press release after the jump, we're a little unclear exactly how GT Academy will whittle down all of these entrants over eight months or how much driving the winner will actually be doing in Dubai. Having raced GT5 Prologue online using the PLAYSTATION Network, we can't imagine qualifying is going to be a pretty sight. There are always plenty of jerks willing to brake late in a corner and buddy bump you into the wall regardless of the game's imposed penalties, especially if they know that seat time in a real 350Z is beyond their own reach.

[Source: Nissan, SCEE]

PRESS RELEASE

PLAYSTATION & NISSAN UNVEIL GT ACADEMY

Opportunity to drive for the Nissan team at the 24H Dubai endurance race – courtesy of PlayStation, Nissan and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue ™

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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  • 19 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's the stupidest idea ever.

      "I was unaware that ramming down the inside in a corner caused damaged to your car."
      • 6 Years Ago
      Who the heck would want to waste 8 months just to drive a porky Z? The handling bit is not all that awesome on the track and it's not really a track worthy car IMO, unless heavily spec modified. If Nissan were offering track time in the GT-R, it'd be a completely different story.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I find it funny that you call it wasting 8 months. You are entering a competition where you play a game. Not working 24/7. Its a hobby for some people already. If you're really good than you can win. Then you get 4 months of racing school and an actual racing license plus enter a real race for free. I don't know about where you live, but I reckon obtaining training for a racing license isn't cheap nor is a chance to race a car that isn't your own.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well, if you're all that serious about track days and dedicated racing, why not leave your job and join the motorsport industry? This publicity stunt is for folks who sit at home all day or are yearning to drive a Z. Besides, in the time it'll take for the winner to actually get some real world track time (about 12 months from now), someone with a decent job can earn a race license, buy a beater Z and have more fun tinkering around in the garage while keeping his/her job.
      • 6 Years Ago
      why not in the U.S.?
      • 6 Years Ago
      It will never happen!

      At the last min someone will stop this madness. Probably the GT5 winners mom. But maybe the winner from the 24 hour race could race the GT5 winner on a PS3, of course after they received some PS3 training, than we can all see if these games are as good for the us as we really would like to think. I would be thrilled to race the 1st place winner and kick his lug nuts, I would brag about it to all,my money would be on the PS3 champ. This would even encourage more to join,just because I know I could win a race against any Pro.This would also give the short-sighted 14 year old (or that guy in South Park WoW episode) a chance of a lifetime. Well aren't they the majority of the PS3 players anyway?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Seems like a worthless promotional stunt. Here's the test, ask the entrants or winner, what would be more important?!? The training and chance to race in that endurance event or being able to pocket all the money that would go into preparing the winner and entrance to the race.
      • 6 Years Ago
      OMG! What happens if a WOMAN wins this thing? I totally had this idea the other day when I was tooling around on GT5. I think it's brilliant idea. Maybe Ralph Shumacker can enter.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Someone get Takuma Sato a Playstation! He needs a ride.
      • 6 Years Ago
      WOW! The funniest part would be if they figure out the best player of the game is a fat american who won't have the physical endurance to last even 10 minutes in a hot endurance racer hitting high Gs on the turns
      • 6 Years Ago
      350z.... why is there a gt-r?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I believe the qualifying through GT5 is racing with the GT-R and the actual race later on is with a 350.
      • 6 Years Ago
      3 days of practice at $1000 an hour and he still won't be able to complete a lap in the real car. The winner of this contest would undoubtly be 95 pounds and sickly.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A friend of mine got very good at Gt3 and GT4, playing night and day until he got his (real) driver's license. I, instead, autocrossed and tracked for 3 years. I let him co-drive my car and he beat my time (and I'm really not that bad, usually top 2 in A-Stock in my S2000). Either he is naturally talented or Gran Turismo is a good racing simulator. If it is natural driving talent, that would explain why he good at GT. If GT is a good simulator, that would explain why he is a good autocrosser (took FTD last weekend). Either way, I don't think you can say the 2 are completely unrelated. Simulation, while no replacement for actual seat time, is still good practice. Also, talent in simulation may also be talent at actual racing. I think this publicity stunt is just another way to find good drivers. Drivers who may not be able to afford the thousands it requires race professionally.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Naa this will do amazingly well in the UAE. They're the same car crazy people that decided it would be worthwhile to make a Ferrari Theme Park.
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