A single track demo of Gran Turismo 5 will be released on the PlayStation Network on Thursday, 17 December. For the first time, Aussie and Kiwi virtual racers will be eligible for the GT Academy competition that aims to convert a virtual racer into a real-world race champion.
Like 2006's Gran Turismo HD, the 17 December "sneak preview" of GT5 is expected to be a free download for the PS3 with just one race-able track in time trial mode — that is, players will race against a clock, not against other drivers on the track.
Racers in each of the countries participating in the GT Academy who register one of their nation's 20 fast times between 17 December and 24 January will qualify for their national finals. National finalists will then race on another preview track from Gran Turismo 5, with 20 of these participants qualifying for a real-world, five-day boot camp at the UK's Silverstone race track.
Two boot campers will then be selected and trained for a tilt at an international racing licence, with one driver winning a season-long seat in a GT4 European Cup team racing in a specially prepared Nissan 370Z.
The competition is open to anyone from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK who doesn't hold, or has held, a racing licence.
Winner of the first GT Academy competition, Lucas Ordoñez from Spain, helped his RJN Motorsport team finish as overall team champions in a Nissan 350Z.