PINOY fans of the video game Gran Turismo will have the chance to race the real thing via the virtual-to-pro racing competition launched the GT Academy and Nissan Philippines.
Now on its seventh installment, the global contest has been expanded in the form of the new GT Academy Asia, in which entries from the Philippines will be pitting skills against drivers from other Asian countries including Japan.
At the same time, the competition created by Nissan and PlayStation unites the worlds of virtual and real-life racing to make the dreams of aspiring race drivers into reality.
The competition launched in Europe in 2008 will have the best Gran Turismo players testing their skills in both online gaming qualification races and live events. They will then compete against each other in a 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 will then be trained in the multiple areas required to become a professional racing driver. If the winner makes the grade, he 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.'
“With the launch of GT Academy in the Philippines, we at Nissan offer an exciting opportunity for Filipinos to emerge as a breakthrough talent in the racing world," said Antonio Zara, president and managing director of Nissan Philippines, Inc.
"With GT Academy, any player who can prove their driving skills in the world of video games can compete in a real racetrack."
No less than GT Academy International Champion 2014 Ricardo Sanchez flew in all the way from UK to attend the Manila launch.
After winning last year's competition, Ricardo's racing career took off as he joined Nissan's elite NISMO racing team and raced in the coveted tracks of the prestigious Dubai 24-Hour race in January 2015.
Thousands of hopefuls from April to June will be narrowed down to the top 20 gamers to be determined by time trials taking place behind the wheel of GT pods during live racing events.
The National Finals in July will determine top six Filipino players who will go to the next round and go bumper-to-bumper with the best Gran Turismo drivers in Asia.
Race Camp Week in August will test players’ strength, stamina, mental agility and driving skills against Asia's best at the Silverstone Racing Circuit in UK.
This will be followed by the Driver Development Program where the emerging GT Academy champion in Asia will join other GT Academy winners in a rigorous training under professional coaches and racers at Silverstone.
Upon graduation, graduates will receive their International C License, allowing them to compete in prestigious racing events anywhere in the world.
"We are looking forward to discovering even more new stars in 2015. Anyone in the Philippines who thinks they have what it takes should give GT Academy a go. Not everyone can win, but the experience is hugely rewarding at every stage of the competition,” said GTA Global’s managing director Laurence Wiltshire.