Lucas Ordoñez, winner of the Inaugural Nissan and PlayStation GT Academy competition in Europe in 2008, made his International LeMans Cup debut at the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring in a Nissan-powered prototype, LMP2-class car for the Signatech Nissan racing team. That’s right, he went from cyberspace to a real race. In 2008, Nissan partnered with Sony’s videogame console maker to create an event to see if a highly-skilled player in the Gran Turismo driving simulator game could make the transition to the real thing, becoming a competitive racer in a genuine race car. After beating out 25,000 other hopefuls in the Inaugural PlayStation GT Academy competition held in Europe, Lucas demonstrated succinctly that a gamer can indeed make a successful jump from the virtual playground to being a World-Class professional driver. In less than three years, the 25 year-old Spaniard has graduated to the top ranks of International sports car racing competition including the European GT4 Cup in 2009 and 2010. Along with the Sebring 12 Hour race, he will contest the entire 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series for the Signatech Nissan squad, including the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. With the GT Academy format proving extremely successful in Europe, a North American version has been created. The GT Academy is now up and running in the US with over 53,000 combatants across the US. The inaugural field was narrowed down to 32 finalists who battled head-to-head competition following the Mobil One 12 Hours of Sebring. In Phase Two of the GT Academy, the remaining 16 drivers will step behind the wheel of several Nissan vehicles (including real Nissan racing cars) and compete against one another in a series of driving challenges. And following in the footsteps of Lucas Ordoñez, the winner will then begin training with a racing team with the goal of eventually driving in a major-endurance racing event. Stay tuned as we’ll have the full scoop on Signatech Nissan at Sebring 12H as well as coverage from the GT Academy US finals in our next issue!