Who says racing dreams can’t come true? We play video games to escape, thinking ourselves as the warriors in a fantasy land or the sergeants in World War II. I remember calmly driving around the virtual streets of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, just cruising aimlessly to relax after a long day at work. The fantasy is part of the gaming experience. Through eSports, gamers get to take that experience to the next level in real-world competitions. And through its virtual-turned-real GT-R Academy, Nissan is taking it one step further for hopeful racers all around the globe.

NPI head, Toti Zara

NPI head, Toti Zara

The Nissan GT-R Academy is a training program that sees the top racers of the virtual racetrack endure actual racer training to become competitive racers in the real world. After realizing its popularity all around the globe, the Academy is opening its doors for a series in Asia, with the Philippines definitely in the line-up. Players from all around Asia will go against each other for the ultimate opportunity of a lifetime to become a global race driver.

Starting in April all the way to June, Nissan will hold live events wherein thousands of gamers will sign up to compete in time trials behind the wheel of the futuristic GT pods. From this nationwide holding of events, the top 20 will advance to the next round, the National Finals in July, which will see them going against each other to determine the top 6 Filipino players. This select pool of players will join the rest of the winners from Asia. They will travel to the Silverstone Racing Circuit in the UK to compete and be tested in their strength, stamina, mental ability, and driving skills. After this one-week Race Camp, the victor and GT Academy Asia Champion will emerge.

The eventual champion will join other GT Academy winners in a rigorous training under the wing of professional coaches and racers for a three-month program which will realize his or her potential as a competitive race driver. After completing the trainer, the graduates will receive their International C License, allowing them to compete in racing events anywhere in the world.

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GT-R Int’l winner Ricardo Sanchez

Gamers don’t need to have any prior experience with racing to join the event. In fact, if you’ve already officially participated in any motor sport, you won’t be eligible to win. This is all about finding real racing talent within the pool of talented gamers. Racers Lucas Ordoñez and Ricardo Sanchez (who was at the Philippine launch event) started from gaming, but they are now renowned racers who have won accolades for Nissan’s NISMO team, thanks to the GT-R Academy.

The GT-R Academy gives those who never thought they could race in real life the opportunity to compete on a global level. Anyone can join as long as they meet a few criteria. Those who can sign up for the live events must:

  • Be residents and at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid driver’s license and have not held racing licenses or competed in official competitive motor sports, in order to be eligible to win.
  • Those who make it to the National Finals are required to participate in a mandatory health screening for physical fitness and vision and be in good health in accordance with the Automobile Association of the Philippines medical requirements.
  • Finally, in order to attend, Race Camp contestants will need to have a valid passport and be able to travel internationally. They will also need to be free to be away from home for approximately one week.

For more information about the program, visit Nissan Philippines, Incorporated’s Facebook page.