This Wednesday, November marks the start of the GT Academy TV Series on ITV4.
It is on for each week for three weeks and takes some of the fastest Gran Turismo gamers in Europe and fast-tracking one of them to become a professional racing driver. Each episode will be repeated on Saturdays (30th November at 5pm, 7th December at 5.30pm and 14th December at 5pm).
The qualifying for this year’s GT Academy took place in a demo of Gran Turismo 6. Over 765,000 gamers in 16 European countries took part in the qualifying rounds. National Final events were then held throughout Europe before 42 of the finest PlayStation gamers descended on Silverstone Circuit, England, in September 2013 for a week-long battle in the demanding GT Academy European Race Camp. This is where the transition from virtual expert to real racing driver began.
Players put various cars to the test, from Nissan Micra stock cars to the powerful Nissan GT-R, the finalists were put through their paces to pinpoint who had the most potential to become a racing driver. They were also tested off-track, with driver psychology training and gruelling fitness sessions, to discover who had a winning mentality and who would crack under pressure.
The TV series will follow the last 6 finalist as they aim to reach their dream of becoming a racing driver. There will be emotions all over the place as heartbroke and triamph will all be felt as the winner is crowned. The first ever British GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough, BTCC driver Paul O’Neill and British female karting champion Tiff Chittenden were on hand to offer advice and guidance to the fledgling drivers, as well as having the tough job of deciding the outcome of the eliminations.
The GT Academy is followed by millions but followed more by none other than Formula 1 and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Johnny Herbert who has followed it since the launch in 2008. He is the competition Head Judge and will ultimately decide who wins the fantastic prize and will embark on an intensive driver development programme this winter to prepare for racing with Nissan in a GT3 Championship in 2014.
Past winners of GT Academy have also gone on to have huge success, with the the inaugural champion Lucas Ordoñez winning the Blancpain Endurance Series pro-am title this year, having already clocked up two Le Mans 24 Hours podium results to his name.
Will you be watching the GT Academy this year on ITV4? Let us know via the comment section below.