Virtual racers looking to make the transition to a real-life pro-racing career via the GT Academy program can now obtain Nissan’s highly anticipated GT-R LM NISMO P1 racing machine for digital hot lapping in Gran Turismo 6.

The technological powerhouse GT-R is available to those taking part in the fourth and final round of online GT Academy Qualifiers. All participants in the fourth round will receive the car for free simply by completing a single lap, regardless of lap time. 

The GT-R’s availability in GT6 coincides with its upcoming competition debut outside the gaming world at the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. A total of three GT-R LM NISMO racers will be run in the prestigious event.

With its premiere track test occurring in November of last year, the GT-R LM NISMO is Nissan’s first foray into the world of enduros in 16 years. Under the guidance of Team Principal and Technical Director Ben Bowlby, also know for masterminding the All American Racers DeltaWing and ZEOD RC, the car sports an unusual front-engine, FWD layout, a concept that flies in the face of conventional LM P1 racing practices.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

The GT Academy is a driver discovery/development program created in 2008 as a collaborative effort between Nissan Europe, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and Polyphony Digital. It’s a highly competitive contest designed to bridge the gap between the digital world and a career as a professional race driver.

Anyone over the age of 18 who owns the GT6 game can participate, making the possible talent pool quite large indeed (2.2 million copies sold in 2013 alone, which isn’t that impressive for a AAA game, but still pretty huge for sourcing future drivers).

 

The first step consists of several stages of online qualifiers where virtual hot shoes compete for best times in the GT6 game environment. Anyone over the age of 18 who owns the GT6 game can participate, making the possible talent pool quite large indeed (2.2 million copies sold in 2013 alone, which isn’t that impressive for a AAA game, but still pretty huge for sourcing future drivers). 

In order to progress through each round, individual racers must achieve a Bronze Award or better. Those who manage to reach the top spots in their respective country are invited to participate in the National Finals, where they are given in-game time trials, as well as tests behind the wheel of actual Nissan vehicles. There’s also a personality test, a fitness test, a vision test and general assessment of health.

Winners of the National Finals for the European, Asian and International regions are then offered the chance to go to Race Camp at real-life tracks (like Silverstone in the UK). At Race Camp, competitors are mentored by professional racers and pitted against one another in a series of eliminatory challenges. After the weeklong process, a panel of judges chooses the final winner. 

Each GT Academy winner is offered a chance to participate in Nissan’s driver development program, where they get two to four months of training in club and national level racing for qualification for an international Racing License, after which they begin their careers as pro race drivers. 

Nissan GT-R LM Nismo Can Now Be Driven In GT6 Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop Screenshots / Gameplay
- image 632729
Nissan GT-R LM Nismo Can Now Be Driven In GT6 Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop Screenshots / Gameplay
- image 632730
Nissan GT-R LM Nismo Can Now Be Driven In GT6 Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop Screenshots / Gameplay
- image 632731

To date, there are 16 GT Academy winners, three of which will take a spin in the real GT-R LM NISMO at the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans this year. On the roster you’ll find Jann Mardenborough (2011 winner), Lucas Ordonez (2008 winner) and Mark Shulzhitskiy (2012 winner). GT Academy mentor Alex Buncombe is also scheduled to drive.

It’s a fantastic idea to put the GT-R LM NISMO in the GT6 gaming environment. Not only does it raise visibility for the automaker’s efforts at Le Mans (not that it really needed more press), it also gives potential future Nissan drivers the chance to wheel around this unusual car and get a feel for what it’s like to drive a sub-2,000-pound FWD hybrid with 1,250 horsepower and huge aero.

Not only does it raise visibility for the automaker’s efforts at Le Mans (not that it really needed more press), it also gives potential future Nissan drivers the chance to wheel around this unusual car and get a feel for what it’s like to drive a sub-2,000-pound FWD hybrid with 1,250 horsepower and huge aero.

 

What’s more, having a huge array of test drivers endlessly lapping for the lowest possible lap time might even provide Nissan with some insight into how to approach the upcoming race in France. While GT6 is not quite up to par as a hardcore professional racing sim, the success of GT Academy graduates demonstrates the inherent ties it can provide between the virtual world and the real one.

Right now, the GT-R LM NISMO team is sorely lacking in development. The car was forced to withdraw from the first two races of the 2015 season of the World Endurance Championship, making it’s first public debut just a short while ago at the official Le Mans Test Day, with all three cars completing roughly 930 miles of running. While that test should provide a good amount of data for development, I can’t help but feel that the car’s appearance at Le Mans this year is like an amateur swimmer attempting to cross the English Channel a few days after learning how to tread water. Oh yeah, and he can’t use his legs.

Could the GT-R’s appearance in GT6 be some kind of vague stab at crowd sourcing development data? Maybe. 

Either way, you can bet there will be more than a few virtual racers saying “I could do that” when it’s go time at Le Mans. And that’s a good thing, because who knows – maybe they really could. 

2015 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo

2015 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO High Resolution Exterior
- image 614796

Read our full review here.

Source: Gran Turismo

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: