Now in India: Nissan PlayStation GT Academy
Nissan and PlayStation come together to find India's best virtual racer, and to turn him into a real racing driver
Do you spend your days and nights mashing the 'X' and 'O' buttons on your gaming controller, wondering if you could really, actually be a racecar driver if it wasn't so ruddy expensive to park your backside in a racecar? Well, wonder no more, because the GT Academy, Nissan and PlayStation's virtual-to-real race driver programme, is now in India.
The concept is quite simple: if you are at least 18 years old, hold a valid driving licence and have no prior experience in the world of motorsport, you can participate in Gran Turismo 6 'time trials' on a PlayStation 3 racing simulator against other gamers, and if you're good enough, you move to the next level. If you happen to pass the national level, you go on to the Silverstone Race Camp, where you stop piloting a virtual car, and race actual Nissans. No stress.
After tasting success in Europe, Russia, USA, the Middle East and South Africa, the GT Academy will kick things off at the Delhi Auto Expo (February 7-11), where the very first time trials for Indian gamers will be conducted. A series of 'live events' will follow, with GT Academy holding similar time trial-based qualification rounds in New Delhi (Ambience Mall, Gurgaon, Feb 20-23), Mumbai (R-City Mall, Ghatkopar, March 20-23), Hyderabad (Inorbit Mall, April 17-20), Bangalore (Mantri Mall, May 15-18) and Chennai (Express Avenue Mall, Royapettah, June 5-8). Or, if you have a PS3 and GT6 at home, you could register and participate on the PlayStation network.
Out of all the cities participating, only 14 of the fastest drivers will make it to the National finals. There, after two days of a rigorous physical and mental training programme, six drivers will be chosen, and will be flown to the camp in Britain, where they will meet 18 other contestants from three different countries.
With motorsport experts at hand, these drivers will be put through some properly exhaustive physical and mental endurance tests (watch the video below to get an idea). It's not like all work will make all Jacks dull boys, though. The participants will also drive around the Silverstone circuit in 370Zs and GT-Rs that have been tuned by Nismo. That's some playtime!
At the end of it, there will be one winner from the lot of 24, and the chosen one will settle in the UK for about three months (which will mean staying away from your gaming console for 90 days, if you're that much of a gamer) in order to undertake an intensive race training programme. The winner will be housed close to the Silverstone circuit, and will be taking part in UK national and club level races most weekends. Quite the dream, eh?
Will you have a crack at it, TG.commers? Who knows, you might just turn out to be the Jann Mardenborough of India...