Sony Senior Product Marketing Manager Stephanie Yoshimoto has confirmed that GT Academy starts today alongside an announcement of some new expansion features for Gran Tusismo 5 PS3.
To quote: Round 1 of GT Academy, the ground-breaking competition that will turn one Gran Turismo 5 player into a professional race car driver, is now open!
If you haven't heard about GT Academy, it's an online competition within GT5 that takes the top 32 players in the United States, based on time trial events, to a national finals event where they will compete for one of 16 spots in the GT Academy boot camp.
At the boot camp, the finalists' strength, stamina, mental agility, and driving skills will be pushed to the limits and beyond. Only one champion will ultimately go on to train to become a professional race driver and compete in a real endurance race.
This unique competition will be documented in a GT Academy reality show that will air on the SPEED channel and PlayStation Network.
Round 1 is now open and runs through January 23, 2011. To enter, register at the GT Web site, then compete in the three online GT Academy time trial events.
Your best lap time for each track will be posted to the rankings. Keep practicing, and if you beat your previous best lap time, your new best lap time will be posted and possibly move you up in the rankings.
All players who enter and race will earn rewards just for participating. A piece of free exclusive digital content will be awarded each week for the five weeks of Round 1 to everyone who logs in and races GT Academy events.
Content includes exclusive PS3 themes and an exclusive GT Academy racing suit for PlayStation HOME. Round 1 prizes will be awarded after the close of Round 1.
Prizes will also be awarded for the top 20 national leaders (combined lap time) as of the end of each of the five weeks during Round 1, ending on January 23, 2011.
The top 20 will each receive a Gran Turismo poster, the top five will each receive a Logitech Driving Force GT steering controller (plus a poster for being in the top 20), and the number one player will receive a Playseat Revolution (Gran Turismo 5 Edition) racing seat (plus a Logitech Driving Force GT steering controller for being in the top 5 and a GT5 poster for being in the top 20).
However, if you win one of the prizes, you will be ineligible to receive the same thing in later weeks. So even if the same person maintains that top spot through all five weeks, four other players will have a chance to win one of the weekly 1st place prizes.
At the end of Round 1, the top 128 players per region will each get a voucher for Gran Turismo (PSP) and move on to round 2. The top 16 winners per region at the end of Round 2 will each receive a Gran Turismo 5 Collector's Edition.
And the top eight winners per region in Round 3 win seats at the GT Academy National Finals event for a chance at joining the GT Academy boot camp, where the grand prize winner will be determined. For more information about how the tournament works, visit the official GT Academy FAQ.
And with the arrival of GT Academy, Gran Turismo 5 has received a sizable update to add more content and improve the overall gameplay experience. Here are some highlights to look forward to:
The Seasonal Events area has been added to the main GT Life screen. From here you can participate in official online events that will be open for a limited time only. Each event has specific entry and race conditions, and completing events earns you rewards and experience points.
Compete here to see how you stack up to the rest of the world on the global leaderboards in the time trials and drift trial events.
Online Race Rewards and Experience
When you complete a race in the [Open Lobby] or [My Lounge], you will now gain rewards and experience.
Even if you are focused more on playing online, you'll still be able to gain rewards and levels that you need to progress in [GT Life].
Hot Car Dealer
A new specialized dealership has also been added to the main GT Life screen, making it much easier to find popular and rare used cars compared to the standard Used Car Dealer.
Distance Driven and Number of Wins in Online Races
Your total distance driven online, and the number of wins you achieve in Open Lobby and My Lounge will now add to your Profile and Garage stats.
Improved Rewards for Playing
Earn increased rewards for winning races in both A-Spec and B-Spec mode through the end of January only. Now's the perfect chance to rack up points, build up your garage, and get ahead in the game.
See you online in Gran Turismo 5!
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