Nissan, in partnership with Sony PlayStation, on Tuesday launched its GT Academy — an initiative to hunt for race drivers and train them — in India. The academy would let gamers with neat skills have a crack at becoming professional racers.
The car company launched a racing simulator which will be used to select those who think they can handle the wheel of a racing beast. Nissan will start short-listing gaming-drivers at the 12th Auto Expo, where participants will have access to these simulators.
The Japanese carmaker’s first ever find who went on to become a race driver was a business student from Spain — Lucas Ordonez. Ordonez’s case serves as an example of how anyone who has good gaming skills can enter the world of professional racing through the GT Academy. “It was a wonderful experience going to the field of racing from pursuing an MBA,” Ordonez said.
The academy already operates in countries such as Russia, the US and South Africa.
The GT Academy’s Indian qualifying rounds will begin with ‘live events’ at shopping malls in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai. There will also be an online qualifying round which will be hosted on the PlayStation Network. Nissan will host the inaugural round of the competition on February 6, 2014, at the Delhi Auto Expo.
“The academy will change the scenario of motorsports in India. It doesn't involve any cost of cars, logistics, etc, which will make every racing enthusiast go for it. It will lead to massive participation and interest amongst Indians,” Indian Formula One driver Karun Chandhok, who presented the simulator, said.
Chandhok, however, said the aspirants would need much more than just the simulators in their bid to become racing drivers. “There is an element to be kept in mind when switching from virtual to real track. They would be expecting certain amount of maturity from the drivers in this competition,” the 30-year-old said.
Nissan decided to enter India with its GT Academy especially because of the popularity India has gained after Formula One came to India. The interest in racing has grown at a very impressive rate since the country started hosting F1 races at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.
To enter the GT Academy, one needs to race on the Gran Turismo video game. The simulator will test the racing abilities of people who apply through time-trial competitions. The time-trials will be held in the five cities where the simulators are being displayed.
Out of the five cities, fourteen contestants who have the fastest lap times will compete in the national final, the first gateway to GT Academy’s international racing camp. The 14 contestants who enter the national final will need to go through a two-day intensive physical and mental training examination programme, which will filter six contestants who will be eligible for the International Race Camp at Silverstone in the United Kingdom.
Video | GT Academy training at Silverstone:
The Silverstone Race Camp will include the six shortlisted Indian contestants and pit them against 18 qualified contestants (six each) from other nations that are also new to the programme. Under the supervision of experts from the world of motorsports, all international contestants will undergo training for mental and physical strength. Their driving skills will be tested and honed on the Formula One Silverstone motor racing circuit in Nismo-tuned Nissan 370Zs and GT-Rs.
GT Academy’s Silverstone Race Camp will eliminate all but one overall winner, one from any one of the competing nations, who will then move on to the Driver Development Programme and learn all the skills necessary to compete in an international ‘graduation race’.
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