Thursday 15 December 2011 - Nissan and PlayStation® are aiming to demonstrate the phenomenal success of their  GT Academy programme with a ground-breaking driver line-up at the prestigious Dubai 24 Hours (12 to 14 January 2012). All four winners of the innovative virtual-to-reality competition will tackle the demanding endurance race as a team sharing the wheel of the awesome 410bhp Nissan 370Z.

Lucas Ordoñez (26 from Madrid, Spain) - winner of the first GT Academy in 2008, second place in the LMP2 class at Le Mans 2011, winner of the Le Mans Intercontinental Cup (ILMC) series and ILMC ‘Rookie of the Year' 2011; Jordan Tresson (23 from northern France) - winner of GT Academy 2010 and winner of the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series; Jann Mardenborough (20 from Cardiff, Great Britain) - winner of this year's GT Academy; and Bryan Heitkotter (30 from California, USA) - winner of GT Academy USA 2011 - will become the first-ever all-gamer-turned-real-racer team to tackle a major international race.

A seat to race in the 2012 Dubai 24 Hours was always set to be the ultimate prize for the winners of the European and USA GT Academy competitions this year. Jann Mardenborough was one of 12 international finalists from across 10 European countries to emerge from a field of more than 90,000 Gran Turismo®5 gamers. After an intensive Race Camp - starting with a visit to the Le Mans 24 Hours and finishing with three-days on track at Silverstone Circuit - Jann impressed head judge and former Formula 1 ace Eddie Irvine with a stunning win in a four-way final race. Having taken the GT Academy crowns, Jann and American counterpart Bryan embarked on a demanding five month Driver Development Programme. With regular races at national level - first in a standard 370Z and then in the GT4 race car - the pair qualified for International C race licences in super-quick order. However, the in-depth programme also included personal training sessions at Silverstone with their own, experienced race instructor, karting to improve race craft, physical training, race psychology, heat chamber sessions and i-zone race simulator sessions. The pair even ran the New York marathon as part of their training.

As Darren Cox, Nissan International's European chief marketing manager for sports cars, explains: "This was the most comprehensive and intensive driver training programme to date in GT Academy and a fantastic opportunity for Jann. We planned every detail to make sure that it was not just a case of him being ‘qualified' to race in Dubai, but that he is a fully-rounded package capable of challenging for a strong finish alongside all of the other winners of GT Academy. Is it a risk to have four drivers in the same car when even the most experienced had never raced before 2008? Definitely not. They said we were crazy when we launched the programme and the GT Academy team keep proving the doubters wrong. All eyes will be on them again in Dubai and they won't let Nissan or PlayStation down."

"It will be an exciting day for me on 13th January when the Dubai 24 Hour race gets underway with a team full of GT Academy champions," echoed Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi, president of Polyphony Digital. "In the past few years a lot of top works teams and famous drivers have raced in Dubai. The success of the GT Academy programme since its debut in 2008 means that they will not take the challenge of the GT Academy Nissan 370Z lightly. The motor sport world certainly took notice of the raw talent that has emerged from Gran Turismo through our GT Academy partnership with Nissan when Lucas stood on the podium at Le Mans. In Dubai we shall give them even more to think about."

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About the Gran Turismo®  Franchise
With more than 60 million units shipped worldwide, the award-winning Gran Turismo® franchise for the PlayStation® , PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 and PSP (PlayStation® Portable) is regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulator ever created due to its true-to-life graphics, authentic physics technology and design. Since the inception of the Gran Turismo franchise, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital Inc. in Japan have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the most realistic driving simulation in the industry and a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products.

Gran Turismo®5 was released on 24 November, 2010 and sold 5.5 million units worldwide in its first two weeks on sale. The ninth instalment of the world's best-selling racing franchise features a completely new physics engine for an improved feel for steering during turns and drifts, delivering a more intuitive driving experience than ever before.  The game also features an impressive line-up of more than 1,000 licensed cars from the world's top manufacturers.  Other innovative features include stereoscopic 3D support, real-time car damage, dynamic weather effects and a deep online and community feature set where players can race online with up to 16 competitors through PlayStation®Network.  With the widest scope and depth of gameplay options in the Gran Turismo series, Gran Turismo 5 offers users an entertainment experience that is only possible on PS3.

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About Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), based in London, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and sales of PlayStation®3, PlayStation®2, PSPTM (PlayStation®Portable) and PlayStation®Network software and hardware in 99 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania. SCEE also develops, publishes, markets and distributes entertainment software for these formats, and manages the third party licensing programs for the formats in these territories. Since the launch of PlayStation 3 in November 2006, 55.5 million units have been sold globally and continue to be sold at a record level.  Maintaining its position as one of the most successful consumer electronic products in history, PlayStation 2 has sold over 153.6 million systems worldwide.  Since its launch at the end of 2004, over 73 million PSPs have been sold globally, highlighting the importance of the portable entertainment market.  With the huge increase in interest and accessibility of network applications and network gaming, more than 90 million accounts have registered to PlayStation Network, the free-to-access interactive environment, and over 1.91 billion items have been downloaded.

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About Nissan in Europe

Nissan has one of the most comprehensive European presences of any overseas manufacturer, employing more than 12,500 staff across locally-based design, research & development, manufacturing, logistics and sales & marketing operations. Last year Nissan plants in the UK, Spain and Russia produced more than 528,000 vehicles including mini-MPVs, award-winning crossovers, SUVs and commercial vehicles. Nissan now offers 24 diverse and innovative products for sale in Europe today, and is positioned to become the number one Japanese brand in Europe.

About the Nissan 370Z

Nissan's 370Z continues the bloodline of previous Zs by offering an authentic rear-wheel drive sports car experience, with enhanced performance and handling thanks to its more compact dimensions and attention to weight-saving.   

In the first full redesign of the iconic Nissan Z since its re-introduction in 2003, the 370Z now sports a shorter wheelbase, greater use of lightweight body materials, a new engine with more horsepower and a new 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, as well as the world's first synchronized down/up shift rev control system for the manual transmission. 

But to get the full measure of the new model, now designated the Nissan 370Z, one need look no farther than the purposeful, athletic design which retains the Z's basic DNA, but adds a purposeful muscularity.  The new 370Z remains true to the Z's original philosophy, offering accessible performance, true sportscar handling and athletic, agile design.