Want To Be A Racing Driver? Gran Turismo Will Show You How

In the world of motor racing, money talks and if you don't have the money there is no amount of talent that'll get you a race seat.

But in the last few years, Nissan and Sony have pioneered an alternative route: video games.

Since 2009 an annual competition has been run to pluck the very best drivers from Sony's best-selling racing game Gran Turismo, run them through a Krypton Factor-esque elimination event to find the best racer and publicity machine and give them a shot at a racing career.

It sounds pretty ambitious on the face of it. While games may be chasing realism, there's only so far a driving game can take you compared to the stresses of racing a real car. Nevertheless, the program has seen some real successes.

The first winner, Spain's Lucas Ordoez, is now a world champion in his class. He's competed in eight 24 hour races including three Le Mans events - in which he's racked up two podium finishes (the second of which was just last week). He's also driven Nissan's potty DeltaWing during the successful Petit Le Mans race last year, only denied a win due to the car's exhibition class entry.

The second winner, Frenchman Jordan Tresson is now racing a Lexus round the Nrburgring, while 2011's winner (from the UK) Jann Mardenborough is in the middle of an impressive debut season in European Formula 3, one of the established routes into F1.

Even the newest crop of winners, most of whom had never even sat in a racing car 12 months ago, are cutting a swathe through the GT3 category in the Blancpain Endurance Series. The next round of that event is the Spa 24 Hours - not bad progress from a bunch of gamers.

Today marks the launch of the 2013 qualifier round for GT Academy, by way of a free, downloadable demo of the next Gran Turismo game for PS3 - which should be available in full in November.

As with last year, there are four competitions running simultaneously depending on your locale, for USA, Russia, Germany and Europe. The fastest gamers in the qualifier event in each region will be invited to the punishing Silverstone Race Camp and a single winner from each region given the ultimate prize of a Sony/Nissan funded leg up into a racing career.

For the rest of us, it's merely a chance to enjoy the next installment in one of motoring's most influential games ahead of time!

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