Gran Turismo has turned into a great platform for racers. Well, Sony and Nissan are teaming up once again for the sixth installment of the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy 2014 Season. Courtesy of Gran Turismo 6, this will also spell the first time that this engagement comes to Canada. The initial flag drops on April 21st, 2014 – let’s get a deep dive into this awesome competition, but first – what is the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy?

GT Academy is a collaboration between PlayStation and Nissan that uses the virtual world of the Gran Turismo®6 game to unearth real-world racing talent. Now in its sixth year, GT Academy includes separate competitions for Europe (France, Italy, UK, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Russia, Sweden, Poland and Czech Republic), Germany, North America (United States and Canada), and a new International group (Australia, India, Middle East, Mexico and Thailand).

The GT Academy online qualification round will be part of a free Gran Turismo®6 update on the PlayStation®3 system (terms and conditions apply) beginning on April 21. The fastest gamers in the U.S. and Canada will be invited to the National Finals event this summer.

From National Finals, the action moves to Silverstone for the legendary Race Camp, where the competitors are put through their paces on track in Nissan sports cars under the watchful eyes of high profile judges and mentors. One winner from each regional competition will be invited to take part in the intensive Driver Development Program. They could qualify for an international race license and race for Nissan at the Dubai 24 Hours in January 2015, before potentially joining Nissan’s elite NISMO Athletes.

Previous winners of GT Academy are now regular racing drivers. In 2014, Jann Mardenborough (UK, winner in 2011) will be racing in GP3, a feeder series to Formula One, with the championship-winning Arden International team. Lucas Ordoñez (Spain, winner in 2008) will be racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours this year in the innovative Nisan ZEOD RC, alongside Wolfgang Reip (Belgium, winner in 2012). In 2013, Lucas won the Pro-Am Drivers Championship in the Blancpain Endurance Series. The 2013 Champions, Stanislav Aksenov (Russia), Miguel Faisca (Europe), Nick McMillen (USA) and Florian Strauss (Germany) are competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series with the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN.

So about that deep dive…

The GT Academy competition has attracted nearly four million entries globally since its inception in 2008, with gamers and motorsports fans battling it out for the chance to become the next NISMO Athlete, one of the elite racing drivers competing for Nissan under NISMO, the company’s motorsports arm. Europe, North America (United States and Canada) and Germany will all select champions. After completing an intensive three-month driver development program that is rated among the best in the world, the 2014 GT Academy global champions will qualify for the ultimate prize – a spot on Nissan’s NISMO race team and the chance to prove that gamers can be elite racers by driving a Nissan in the grueling Dubai 24 Hour race next January.

Proof of the success of the virtual-to-reality competition can be seen in the stunning on-track results of its graduates.

2011 GT Academy North America winner Bryan Heitkotter has shown great promise, earning three pole positions, five front row qualifying spots and two podiums racing a Nissan 370Z® NISMO for Doran racing in the Continental Tire Challenge Series in IMSA. GT Academy 2012 champion Steve Doherty notched two podium finishes in seven starts driving a Nissan GT-R® in the Blancpain Endurance Series last year for RJN Motorsport. Last season’s GT Academy winner Nicholas McMillen is currently competing in the Blancpain Series and experienced his first start April 13 at Monza in Italy, helping his team earn an impressive fifth in class in their first Blancpain Series appearance. McMillen also brought the GT-R to second in class during his stint behind the wheel, demonstrating his ability to maneuver through the pack quickly.

Even if you aren’t a racer, you can follow along with live events and contest at the official site. You’ll be able to access the new content live from April 21st to June 16th. Good luck, racers!