From Gamer to a Real Race Car Driver: Nissan’s Virtual-to-Pro Racing Competition

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If you’re pretty good at Gran Turismo and think you can do better in real life, then you may have what it take to be a part of Nissan Philippines’ GT Academy.


Nissan Philippines, now a member of the GT Academy, is bringing the the virtual-to-pro racing competition to the Philippines.The GT Academy Asia will see the Philippines race against other Asian countries including Japan in the battle to become the GT Academy Champion.

“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.

Any player who can prove their driving skills in the world of video games can compete in a real racetrack. The GT Academy International Champion 2014 Ricardo Sanchez flew in all the way from UK to attend the launch. After winning last year’s competition, Sanchez’s racing career took off after he joined Nissan’s elite motor sport team, the NISMO, to run the  tracks of the Dubai 24-Hour race in January 2015.

SJ Huh, Laurence Wiltshire, Antonio Zara and Ricardo Sanchez by the simulator pod
SJ Huh, Laurence Wiltshire, Antonio Zara and Ricardo Sanchez by the simulator pod

“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.

The GT Academy

GT Academy is a competition created by Nissan and PlayStation that unites the worlds of virtual and real-life racing. The competition, which originally launched in Europe in 2008, finds the best Gran Turismo players from across the participating countries by testing their skills in both online gaming qualification process and live events. They will then compete against each other in live National Finals before the winners from each final switch to driving real Nissan cars at the now-famous Silverstone “Race Camp.”

2014 Nissan GT Academy International Champion Ricardo Sanchez
2014 Nissan GT Academy International Champion Ricardo Sanchez

The overall winner of GT Academy is then trained in the multiple areas required to become a professional racing driver. If the winner makes the grade, they 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.”

The Shift from Gamer to Racer

GT Academy takes skilled Gran Turismo 6 players and turns them into professional racers in five stages.

  • First Gear: The Recruitment (April – June) – Racing hopefuls 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.
  • Second Gear: National Finals (July) – The National Finals will determine top 6 Filipino players who will go to the next round and go bumper-to-bumper with the best Gran Turismo drivers in Asia.
  • Third Gear: The Race Camp Week (August) – Players will be tested on their strength, stamina, mental agility and driving skills against Asia’s best at the Silverstone Racing Circuit in UK.
  • Fourth Gear: Driver Development Program – The emerging GT Academy Champion in Asia will join other GT Academy winners in a rigorous training under the wing of professional coaches and racers at the Silverstone Racing Circuit in UK.
  • Fifth Gear: Graduation – After passing the Driver Development Program, graduates will receive their International C License, allowing them to compete in a prestigious racing event anywhere in the world.

The Nissan GT Academy Live events will start this week. Here are the schedules to be held at the Glorietta 5 Activity Center:

  • April 10 – 11, 10AM to 10PM
  • April 12, 10AM to 9PM
  • April 17 – 18, 10AM to 9PM

For further announcements on live events and updates about the GT Academy Philippines, you may visit

Bryan is a geek at heart and a tech enthusiast by choice. He has a strong background in corporate communications, marketing services, and customer relations having worked in the telecommunications and banking sectors for over two decades. In his spare time, he enjoys watching clips on YouTube and binge watching shows on Netflix.

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