GT Academy: Become a real-life racing driver with Nissan and Sony PlayStation

Fancy yourself as the next Lewis Hamilton? Yeah, us too, that's why our ears perked up like little meerkats when Nissan and Sony started a competition to let gamers become real racing drivers

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Fancy yourself as the next Lewis Hamilton? Yeah, us too -- that's why our ears perked up like little meerkats when Nissan and Sony started a competition to let gamers become real racing drivers.

The international GT Academy competition -- the second since 2008 -- is split into four main stages. Stage one requires competitors to record flying laps on a time-trial-based track in Gran Turismo 5 via the PS3's PlayStation Network. The 20 fastest entrants in each country will qualify for stage two -- a national final. In stage three, the 20 fastest entrants from stage two will battle it out to reach the next round -- a five-day boot camp in which they'll have the chance to drive real-life sports cars, including the latest Nissans, around Silverstone.

The two finalists that display the best aptitude for racing will move onto an even more intensive racing programme, which will prepare them for an international racing licence. The final stage will see the driver with the most potential race a full season in the GT4 European Cup in a Nissan 370Z prepared by RJN Motorsport. Yes, you may now wet yourself.

Don't bother entering the competition if you're rubbish, though -- 2008's GT Academy winner, Lucas Ordonez, made a very good account of himself this year, winning the final race and placing second overall in the GT4 series.

The GT Academy time trial will be available for download from the PlayStation Store from 17 December. If you live in the UK, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden or even New Zealand, and you're a demon behind the wheel, then you'd better get involved. Be warned, though, if you're successful, you'll need to clear your diary, as you could be racing at Silverstone by as early as 2 May.

Head over to the GT Academy Facebook page or the Gran Turismo Web site for more details.

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