Gran Turismo Academy winner announced, wins chance to race with pros.

by: Nathaniel -
Sony has announced today that Bryan Heitkotter has won the opportunity to race against the pros for real.  He won this privilege by coming first in the Gran Turismo Academy contest.  Said contest required extreme proficiency at both Gran Turismo 5 and then a series of real life racing challenges. The final GT Academy race camp took place at Silverstone racing circuit in the U.K, where Bryan Heitkotter emerged as the most skilled of the original 53,000 entrants.  For his troubles, he's won the right to train with a pro racing team with the ultimate goal of participating in an endurance race as part of a professional racing team next year.  Bryan's story will be detailed on a multi-episode reality show on SPEED channel and the PSN this September.

You can find full details after the jump. 


America's Best Gran Turismo® 5 Driver Takes Home the GT Academy Crown Earning a Chance to Race With the Pros


Bryan Heitkotter Wins an Opportunity to Train to Become a Professional Race Car Driver

FOSTER CITY, Calif., June 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- After a week of stiff competition both on and off the track under the careful scrutiny of a panel of expert judges, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) and Polyphony Digital Inc., in collaboration with Nissan North America, announced Brian Heitkotter of Fresno, California as the inaugural winner of the GT Academy competition in the United States. Bryan emerged from a group of more than 53,000 hopefuls during the online time trials in Gran Turismo® 5 as one of the fastest 32 players in the country. At the National Finals event in Orlando, Florida in March, he was the top qualifier as the competition was cut in half to the fastest 16. And this past week, he proved he has what it takes to go from virtual to reality at the GT Academy race camp at the Silverstone racing circuit in the U.K. as one of America's most promising racers.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20020701/SFM066LOGO)

"GT Academy made my dream of becoming a race car driver a reality, thanks to PlayStation and Nissan," said Bryan Heitkotter. "I can't believe all the hours training with the realistic Gran Turismo® 5 driving simulator have led me to this amazing opportunity."

Across the Atlantic at the Silverstone racing circuit, Bryan beat out 15 fellow finalists in a week-long race camp from May 30–June 5. There, finalists faced a series of grueling challenges ranging from rigorous mental and physical tests to driving tests behind the wheel of Nissan race cars to see how their gaming talent shifted into real driving skills. Participants were judged and scored by an expert panel of racing industry veterans, based on each competitor's skills, performance and overall aptitude for the requirements of a professional racer. Key challenges during the race camp included a triathlon, racing go-karts, timed laps in Nissan 370Zs, and many other intense challenges.

"GT Academy has been an exciting journey for these finalists, and it has been amazing to see the transformation over the past week as these competitors become serious drivers," said Scott A. Steinberg, Vice President of Product Marketing, SCEA. "We look forward to working with Bryan Heitkotter to see how his hours spent on Gran Turismo 5 and on PlayStation 3 continue to influence his skills behind the wheel of real race cars, competing alongside and against seasoned professionals."

"The intensity of the competition at GT Academy race camp was incredible and Bryan Heitkotter did an outstanding job to win this once in a lifetime opportunity," said Jon Brancheau, Vice President Marketing, Nissan. "It was great to see the competitors experience the Nissan GT-Rs and 370Zs on the race track and learn the full potential available in these innovative sports cars."

As the official GT Academy winner for the U.S., Bryan will train with a team of elite race car drivers and coaches and compete in numerous training races in the coming months in preparation for an endurance race as part of a professional racing team early next year.

Bryan's road to victory will be documented in a multi-episode reality show airing exclusively on SPEED channel and the PlayStation Network (available on the PlayStation® 3) in September 2011. The series will show the journey from the GT Academy National Finals Event in Orlando to the Silverstone race camp competition.

For more information on GT Academy visit: http://www.facebook.com/GTAcademyNA

About Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC continues to redefine the entertainment lifestyle with its PlayStation® and PS one® systems, the PlayStation®2 system, the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system, the ground-breaking PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system and its online and network services the PlayStation®Network and PlayStation®Store.

Recognized as the undisputed industry leader, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC markets the PlayStation family of products and develops, publishes, markets, and distributes software for the PS one, PlayStation 2, PSP and PS3 systems for the North American market. Based in Foster City, California, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC serves as headquarters for all North American operations and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

Visit us on the Web at http://www.us.playstation.com

About Gran Turismo®
With more than 56 million units sold worldwide, the award-winning Gran Turismo® franchise for the PlayStation®, PlayStation®2 and PLAYSTATION®3 is regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulation ever created due to its true-to-life graphics, physics and real-life cars and tracks. Since the inception of the Gran Turismo franchise, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital Inc. in Japan have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the gamer with the most true-to-life driving simulation within the industry and a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products.

About Nissan
In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan also sells racing and performance parts through its Nissan Motorsports and NISMO parts line. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program 2010 and has been recognized as a 2010 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and http://www.nissandriven.com/ www.InfinitiUSA.com.
 
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