Gran Turismo’s Plan To Turn Gamers Into Real Drivers Is Working

Gran Turismo’s Plan To Turn Gamers Into Real Drivers Is Working

With the leaps and bounds that esports has made over the last few years, the achievements and accomplishments of GT Academy — the pathway for Gran Turismo aficionados to become real-life racing drivers — often gets overlooked.

But the program has been running for several years now, with Nissan, Polyphony and Sony kicking off the program in 2008. Winners from the program each year are then given a contract with Nissan to kickstart their racing career. But the real interest is whether those drivers are able to continue racing once Nissan lets them go.

[credit provider=”Nissan/GT Academy”]

One success from the GT Academy program is Wolfgang Reip, a 29-year-old from Belgium who was the European GT Academy winner in 2012. As part of the GT program, he’s had a contract with Nissan for around three years — a contract that Nissan recently rescinded.

But that hasn’t brought Reip’s career to a halt. Within six weeks of not having a manufacturer to race for, he’s been picked up by M-Sport Bentley where he’ll compete in the Blancpain Endurance Cup.

Reip’s deal with Bentley is ground-breaking, because it’s the first time a GT Academy winner has signed a factory deal with another manufacturer. “I’m really proud of it. It shows that the program is working,” the driver told Sportscar365. “You can actually win a competition from gamer to racer and become a proper racing driver that is able to get a factory drive.”

“I hope this will give credibility to GT Academy drivers and also to racing in general. It’s quite easy to judge people on how they get into racing, but you need to be open-minded and to give everybody a chance. In the end it’s the results that matter.”

Other GT Academy graduates are continuing to forge ahead with their careers after life at Nissan: Gaetan Paletou was the LMP3 vice-champion for the LMP3 series last year, while Florain Strauss debuted at the Bathurst 12 Hour last year.

Australia’s Matthew Simmons, who was the international GT Academy champion for 2015, will also race in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup (Pro Am Class) this year. The first round of the series kicks off in Italy at the famous Monza circuit on April 23-24.



  • Goodluck to Riep! thats such a cool thing, never even knew about this happening.
    now we need one for Hitman.
    wait did i say that out loud? whoops

    • ‘Hitman player successfully assassinates Trump with poison laced toupee claims to have been hired by Square Enix’

  • I’m still genuinely surprised that this is a thing with how fucked the physics engine is in GT games.

    I’d love to see top racers from Corsa and Pcars go at it. Hell, throw in Forza if GT is there. I’d be amazed if the GT players were even remotely close to the players from corsa and pcars etc

    • It’s not about being good at one game, it’s about being able to adapt. If you can easily translate your skills in the game into driving a real racing car, you’re golden.

      • I completely agree, which is why I dislike the opportunity only being there for GT players.

        I just wish it was more about actually finding the top talent in racing sims and less of a GT marketing strat.

  • Is Gran Turismo still a thing?

    We’ve seen two “real” Forza games and Horizon 2 already this generation, and have been promised another for next E3.

    Polyphony have made great games, but I feel like they’ve spent 90% of their time post GT2 at the pub. Delayed games, extravagant demos, games with models recycled from the generation before, PSP failures, games with front ends designed by the work experience kid…. Hell, the last GT game was so late it didn’t even land on the PS3 until after the PS4 was on shelves!

    For a high profile studio with a history of success, they’re comically inept.

    • GT is the only game with my IRL car and other japanese favorites of mine, yet they’ve managed to make driving those cars a completely dull and underwhelming experience. Dont even get me started on the engine notes.

      It’s been such a downhill ride from the PS1 days 🙁

        • I’m sure there are a handful of cars that are reasonably well done, but when every car sounds nothing like a vehicle should, it’s hard to claim any cars in GT are perfect. If they cant even get the sounds of Nissans right then I highly doubt they could accurately represent the sound of a Chrysler.

          If you enjoyed it though I guess that’s the main thing.

          • After owning one for 3 years and owning it while the game first came out. I’ll take my own experience over your doubts. You do understand factory exhausts sound pretty crap. Most of the cars in the game you would never have heard irl. So it’s hardly good grounds to go off.

          • So you are actually claiming that GT made a car perfect in every sense of the word, down to the audio? Sorry if I find that hard to believe with GT’s track record.

            Yes, factory exhausts do sound pretty terrible most of the time, and they cant even accurately recreate that.

            Sure, in a car list of over 1000 there are plenty I havent seen IRL. I’m sure a lot of the foreign cars I havent heard besides maybe on youtube too. But i’m into Japanese Imports and have been around the scene quite a while. You would be hard pressed to find a japanese engine that i’m not familiar with IRL, so I am more than happy to stand by my claim of the engine notes being absolute shite. So bad infact, that when someone like yourself claims a car is “perfect” I have a very hard time believing them.

            No offense and nothing personal mate. As someone that lives and breathes cars, the sound in GT games just isnt excusable.

  • Reip and Strauss in fact won last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour with Chiyo for Nismo. Even more remarkable because they were in the GT3-Am class.

  • Gran Turismo stopped being relevant years ago, as, due to poor development direction, it became an also-ran in the very genre it forged. It became boring and stale with 5 etc.
    7 years of academy has turned out underwhelming results imo.

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