In 2008, Nissan and PlayStation's creation of a gamer-to-racer competition was unprecedented. Now, the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy is an established contest entering its eighth year, with past winners who have gone on to real-life motor racing success.
According to Nissan, there have been six million entrants to the GT Academy since it first launched. From the class of 2015, Australian Matthew Simmons was crowned as the overall champion and graduated along with European champion Romain Sarazin and Asian champion Jose Gerard Policarpio.
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Simmons and are Sarazin are currently both racing for Nissan in the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series. Among the previous Academy graduates is the 2008 European champion Lucas Ordóñez, who is competing in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the 2011 European champion Jann Mardenborough, who is in Japan competing in the Super GT and the All Japan F3 Championship, and the 2014 international champion Ricardo Sánchez, who is competing in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup (Silver Cup Class).
The recruitment stage of this year's competition will take place via a pre-release version of Gran Turismo Sport, meaning that participants will be among the first people to experience the upcoming game. They will race with Nissan cars and the overall winner will receive an intensive driver development program, which, if successfully completed, will see them qualify for an International Race License and go on to race for Nissan in a 24-hour endurance race.
There are six confirmed territories hosting GT Academy events this year, namely Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, North Africa (Algeria, Egypt and Morocco), the Philippines and Thailand. Additional regions are expected to launch their own competitions at a later date.
The 2016 GT Academy launched today, while Gran Turismo Sport is scheduled for release for the PlayStation 4 from November 15th.
The video below shows the winner from last year's GT Academy.