GT Academy is a collaboration between PlayStation® and Nissan that uses the virtual world of the Gran Turismo®5 game to unearth real-world racing talent.

In 2011, over 90,000 gamers from across Europe entered an online time-trial competition on GT5TM with the fastest 20 in each participating territory taking part in National Finals in May. Two winners each from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Iberia (Portugal and Spain) and the UK progressed to the next stage - GT Academy Race Camp at Silverstone. After a week of intense competition in Nissan cars, Jann Mardenborough (now 20 from Cardiff, UK) was announced as the victor by head judge and former Formula 1 ace Eddie Irvine.

Mardenborough, along with his counterpart from the USA version of GT Academy, then undertook an intensive Driver Development Programme based in the UK. The pair qualified for international race licences and will now claim their ultimate prize - a drive in a full race-spec Nissan 370Z GT4 in the Dubai International 24 Hours.

GT Academy 2011 is the third instalment of this incredible competition.

The 2008/09 GT Academy champion, Lucas Ordoñez (a 23-year-old Spanish student when he won the competition) is now a professional racing driver who drove to a stunning second place in the LMP2 class at the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours for the Signatech Nissan Team and followed it up by winning the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series.

Jordan Tresson, who won in 2010 as a 21-year-old French automotive engineering student,  won the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series for the PlayStation Nissan Team.

Both are living proof that the answer to the question posed by PlayStation and Nissan - "Can the world of virtual racing unearth a real racing talent?" - was a resounding "yes".

News and views on GT Academy 2011 and the progress of all the GT Academy drivers can be followed on various platforms including: