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

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

Jun 6, 2011

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. "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."

Modp 1106 01+sony gran turismo+sony logo Photo 2/2   |   America's Best Gran Turismo 5 Driver Takes Home the GT Academy Crown Earning a Chance to Race With the Pro

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.

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.

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

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