With its official launch in March 2015, GT Academy is finally ready to get the green light starting in April thanks to Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI). But before that, here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on how to become the next champion.
Q1: What is GT Academy?
GT Academy is a competition created by Nissan and PlayStation that unites the worlds of virtual and real-life racing to make the dreams of aspiring race drivers become a reality. The competition, which originally launched in Europe in 2008, finds the best Gran Turismo players from across the participating countries by testing their skills in both online gaming qualification process and live events. They will then compete against each other in live National Finals before the winners from each final switch to driving real Nissan cars at the now-famous Silverstone ‘Race Camp’.
The overall winner of GT Academy is then trained in the multiple areas required to become a professional racing driver, if the winner makes the grade they will compete in the Dubai 24 Hour race for Nissan and have the chance to be considered for a future career with Nissan as a ‘NISMO Athlete’.
Q2: Which countries participate in GT Academy?
GT Academy was originally only run as a pan-European contest, but as the programme’s popularity has grown a new series in the USA and a specific German competition has begun. The program continues to expand as it now has the GT Academy Asia having Philippines and other Asian countries including Japan as participating countries.
Q3: Who can qualify?
Everyone is invited to participate in the Live Events and simulate a real race car driving experience using the GTA pods. However, the 20 finalists who garnered the fastest lap times in the Live Events will have to abide by the following eligibility criteria:
Residents at least 18 years old.
In order to be eligible to win, contestants must have a valid driver’s licence. Those who have an existing competition driving contract, or have previously held a National A or superior AAP racing license or equivalent, or competed in a national level karting, or other motor sport, national championship, are not eligible. Any contestant who made it to Race Camp in any of the previous GT Academy competitions will not be able to progress.
Those that make it to the National Finals are required to participate in a mandatory health screening for physical fitness and vision and be in good general health in accordance with the Automobile Association of the Philippines medical requirements.
Finally, in order to attend Race Camp contestants will need to have a valid passport and be able to travel internationally. They will also need to be free to be away from home for approximately one week.
Q4: How can I qualify?
Nissan will hold Live Events in various locations nationwide in the Philippines. The 20 fastest and qualified gamers at the event will go through to the next stage of the competition which is the National Finals happening in July 2015.
Q5: Is it worth entering GT Academy even if I don’t think I’ll win?
It is always worth trying to see where you are against the best gamers in your country. None of our previous GT Academy winners believed they had a chance of winning when they first entered GT Academy! But you can also have a lot of fun by challenging your PSN friends. The GT Academy competition is also designed to improve your skills.
Q6: What are the timings for the other stages of GT Academy Asia 2015?
National Finals will take place in July with the International Race Camp scheduled for August. The Driver Development Programme runs from September until January. The winner of GT Academy will get a chance to race in an international level racing competition.
Q7: What happens next to the winner of GT Academy?
The winner has to be prepared to make a major commitment to becoming a real racing driver. From the end of the Race Camp, the winner will be based in the UK for approximately three (3) months in order to undertake an intensive race training program. The winner will be housed close to Silverstone Circuit and will be racing in UK national and club level races most weekends.
The overall winners of GT Academy will be put through an intensive Driver Development Program, in order to qualify for the main prize – a chance to race professionally with Nissan in Dubai and potentially beyond, dependent on the winners own abilities and commitment to the programme.
Q8: What if a competitor has never raced a real car in their life?
That’s not a problem. GT Academy is about finding the best of the best Gran Turismo gamer and turning him or her into a professional racing driver. As outlined in the rules, people with past professional racing experience are not eligible. As long as the competitor can drive in Gran Turismo, knows how to drive a real car, and meets the other eligibility requirements, all they have to do is try their best.
Q9: Can a GT Academy graduate be a realistic route into top-level motorsport?
Nissan and PlayStation posed the question – “can the world of virtual racing unearth a real racing talent?” The success of the competition’s previous GT Academy winners has demonstrated that this answer is a resounding ‘yes’. It was clearly demonstrated when Lucas Ordoñez, the Spanish winner of the first installment in 2008, went on to finish second in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2011 and won the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for Nissan.