57Nissan and Sony PlayStation® have again held the Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy Middle East challenge in Dubai, with six dynamic Gran Turismo gamers now getting the chance to become real professional car racers.

The high-octane, high-pressure event in which 28 finalists from around the Middle East competed has just been staged over two days at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The six victors will be taken to Britain’s famous Silverstone circuit and undergo a race drivers’ boot camp to determine the overall Middle East GT Academy winner who then gets the opportunity to be a professional track racer.

The top gun Gran Turismo gamers who will be heading to Silverstone are: Hadi Abdel Hadi (Lebanon), Bahaa Abdel Hadi (Lebanon), Mohamad Jamal Ghandour (Lebanon), Walid Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia), Yasser Al Mansoor (Saudi Arabia) and Ahmed Khaled (Saudi Arabia).

The Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy was launched in Europe in 2008 and the concept has proved highly successful around the world. It was introduced to the Middle East last year.

The Middle East’s 2014 winner will follow in the tyre tracks of Qatari Salman Al-Khater, last year’s champion, who won his first race at the 2013 Britcar 1000km after making the transition from gaming.

Anyone owning a PlayStation® and a copy of Gran Turismo 6 has been able to enter the contest online or by attending a Nissan PlayStation GT Academy live event throughout the Middle East.

GT Academy is a unique concept created by Darren Cox, Global Head Brand, Marketing and Sales NISMO, who set out to prove a gamer with outstanding driving skills in the virtual world could perform equally well in a car on the tarmac. The idea has succeeded brilliantly.

Cox says: “It’s great the winners from the Middle East have been selected. We now look forward to putting them through their paces at Silverstone. Salman Al-Khater made the transition from virtual to real-world driving effortlessly and won his very first race. I’m sure this year’s eventual winner from the Middle East will be equally talented.”

The race camp at Silverstone in August will settle which of the six champs from the Dubai showdown has the skills to take on top-level racers for real on the track.

Samir Cherfan, managing director, Nissan Middle East, says the challenge at the Trade Centre had “exceeded all expectations.”

“We have seen two days of excitement as gamers went hard at it in a bid to move to the next phase and hopefully become a professional racing driver after the tutoring at Silverstone. It’s been great fun for all concerned and the event will pave the way for one of the contestants getting a spot behind the wheel with Nissan and becoming a racer for real on the tarmac.

“Motor sport is becoming more popular by the day in the Middle East and Nissan is delighted to be making a contribution in this unique way via the Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy. Congratulations to the six winners and good luck at Silverstone.”

Cherfan says entries for this year’s challenge had increased five-fold on last year’s inaugural event.

Robert Fisher, general manager of Sony Computer Entertainment in Middle East, Africa, Turkey, and India has hailed the second GT Academy event in the UAE as a “resounding success”.

“The GT Academy continues to illustrate how the virtual and real world can combine in such a seamless and productive manner.”

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