Nissan made gamer racing real when it teamed up with PlayStation and launched the GT Academy in 2008. The annual competition has kicked off for the 2013 round.The 2013 GT Academy competition started on July 2 with an exclusive downloadable demo of the new Gran Turismo 6 game for PlayStation3 which will run until July 29. The demo will remain available to play until August 31. The South African version launched in October 2012 saw a few local gamers make it to the final at the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit early in 2013 for the African/Middle Eastern competition.REAL RACINGThe virtual-to-reality contest has challenged the traditional and expensive route into motorsport, discovering talent in two former champions, Lucas Ordonez and Jann Mardenborough. Each raced at the recent Le Mans 24 Hours in a Nissan-powered LMP2 car and finished fourth in class.More than two-million entrants have participated since 2008. The result has been several drivers compete for Nissan in top-level international racing series.Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi has re-created Nissan cars, among them the Leaf, 370Z and GT-R, for the competition. The demo will guide players through beginner rounds of a GT Academy-themed driving school before unlocking the final qualifying event featuring the Silverstone GP Circuit. Anybody who registers and submits a qualifying time will receive free bonus content.The online competition will lead to the fastest gamers being invited to the final event where they will be challenged with the game as well as in real cars. From there the action will move to Race Camp at Silverstone, with the winner there set to potentially join the elite band of Nismo Athletes.GT Academy Europe 2013 includes France, Italy, UK, Spain, Portugal, Benelux, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, and Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. The USA, Russia and Germany will each have standalone competitions.'UNLEASHING RACERS'Usama Al-Qassab, Sony Europe’s marketing VP,says: “Having an insight into some of the features that will be seen on Gran Turismo 6 later in 2013 will be interesting for the gamer community. The challenges encourage everyone to get involved. That's what GT Academy is all about – an intensive school that unearths real racing talent through PlayStation and Gran Turismo and is open to everybody. "Even if you are not eligible to progress to the next stage it is always good to learn and see how you compare to your friends."Nissan's global motorsport director Darren Cox says: “At Le Mans, two former winners of GT Academy lined up in the Nismo-powered Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan LMP2 car to compete in arguably the greatest race in the world. Their fourth-place finish shows the phenomenal success of the GT Academy programme and its world-class driver development programme. “There is no clearer demonstration of why it is worth entering GT Academy - it could be you next. Even if you don’t make it that far, there is no harm in dreaming and racing some lovely Nissan cars in the GT6 demo.”Eligible entrants within the participating countries will need a Sony entertainment network account and access to a PlayStation3 connected to the internet. They can download the free qualifying GT6 demo from the PlayStation store. People without a PS3 can enter the competition via a series of local GT Academy live events.Visit Facebook or the website for entry details.