Once upon a time, racing game enthusiasts could only dream of graduating from competing on-screen to competing on-track. Then, in 2008, Nissan and Gran Turismo began a partnership that would give people that very chance. The GT Academy is now back for a seventh year.

The first winner of the GT Academy in 2008, Lucas Ordoñez, went on to achieve all sorts of success, while last year saw four GT Academy graduates compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours race. This year, graduates are competing again in the Le Mans 24 Hour race, the GP3 Formula 1 feeder series, the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Blancpain GT3 series and the top class of the Japanese Super GT series.

This year's competition kicked off yesterday (Apr. 21). Gamers can compete in a variety of in-game challenges on Gran Turismo 6 for the PlayStation 3 or in mass-participation GT Academy live events.

The best performers will win a place at Race Camp, which this year moves from the UK's Silverstone circuit to the Yas Marina F1 circuit in Abu Dhabi. On offer for the Race Camp winner is what Sony calls "one of the most advanced driver development programs in the world" and a season's racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series driving a 550 bhp Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 car.

Entrants must be 18 or over and qualifying runs through to Jun. 16.

The video below is the promo video for the 2015 GT Academy.

Sources: Nissan, Sony