Back in November, we told you about Nissan's GT Driving Academy, a promotion tied to Sony's Gran Turismo 5 videogame that will give one lucky virtual player in the U.S. a chance to become a real-world racing legend. Now, we're happy to report that the competition is rolling to Europe.
From March 4 to April 17, Gran Turismo 5 players in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. will compete in online time trials. The fastest 20 will get to run one additional race, from which 12 finalists will be chosen -- two from each of the following regions: Germany and Austria; France and Switzerland; the UK and Ireland; Spain and Portugal; Italy; and the Netherlands.
Those 12 guys and girls will be ported off to the Silverstone Circuit for a six-day driver training camp, where they'll sit behind the wheels of bona fide race cars. And from those twelve, one will be selected to test his or her mettle in a professional race. He or she will train in high-performance versions of the 2011 Nissan GT-R and the 2011 Nissan 370Z, in advance of numerous national races and a shot at competing in Dubai.
As car fans and videogame junkies, we love this tie-in with GT5: the game's fun on its own, but Nissan's competition gives every player a shot at something more. Nissan must like it, too: the automaker has arranged for roughly 10% of the 1,000 or so models in GT5 to wear Nissan badges. And in addition to the branding benefits, the competition also generates a good deal of content for the company's social media channels.
We admit, the Driving Academy doesn't seem like the most cost-effective way to market Nissan -- what with all the time and energy spent on training an inexperienced driver who may or may not turn out to be a winner. But hey, car sales are on the mend -- Nissan can't even keep the Leaf in stock -- so maybe the company can afford it.
There doesn't seem to be a video about the European competition just yet, but in case you missed it, here's the promo for the North American Driving Academy, which should give you an overview: