Sony Computer Entertainment today announced that TV channel Dave will be broadcasting a series of five programmes featuring the GT Academy. GT Academy was devised by PlayStation® and Nissan to unite the worlds of virtual and reality by turning the ultimate gamer into a real-life racing driver. The series of programmes will be aired on Dave across the next five weeks, each airing on a Saturday at 7.00pm, with the first programme featured this Saturday, 4th April. The shows will be repeated on Wednesdays at 7.30pm and then again the following Saturday morning at 11.00am.
The show will chart an incredible, ‘every-boy’s dream’ journey that started with gamers from 11 European countries posting times via the online version of PlayStation’s stunning Gran Turismo driving game. The fastest 20 drivers in each country were invited to a national final to compete head-to-head on Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. The UK National Final was hosted at the beginning of August 2008 at the topical surrounding of the spectacular GT-R display on Nissan’s stand at the British International Motor Show. The event proved a tense showdown which saw the UK’s three top gamers qualify for an uncompromising week-long training camp at Silverstone Circuit, the epicentre of British motorsport.
National finalists from France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the UK arrived at Silverstone at the end of August 2008 as the world of ultra-realistic virtual racing broke through into reality. The GT Academy rolled onto Silverstone’s starting grid and was not for the fainthearted. Gruelling fitness and mental attitude training started the process of unearthing those with a real desire to win. The intense and rigorous driving programme saw the finalists take the wheel of some stunning hardware, but also piled on the pressure to see who would crack.
Dave’s coverage of GT Academy really will reveal the old cliché of ‘the agony and the ecstasy’ as the 20 finalists are gradually whittled down to two winners in a tense, knockout format judged by a panel of experts. The prize at stake was the incredible opportunity to undergo an intensive training and racing programme to qualify for an international racing license.
After nine months of hard work, challenges and successes the PlayStation / Nissan race team achieved what some motorsport pundits said would be impossible. Supported by team mate Johnny Herbert, the former British Formula One driver, the overall winner went on to successfully race as a key member of the team in a fully-prepared Nissan 350z at the Dubai 24hr endurance race. This marked the first time a racing driver has ever been found in this way.
GT Academy proved to be an inspired and stunning experiment to bridge the gap between the virtual and real worlds. The TV series that charts the success of the programme contains high drama and memorable moments and is a must see for any aspiring racing driver or keen gamer.