Gran Turismo 5 will be used to find a real-world racing driver as part of a competition jointly organised by Nissan New Zealand and Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE).

An SCE media release said the competition would begin on December 17 when fans of the PlayStation3 game could download a demo from the PlayStation Network and submit their fastest lap times on the demo circuit.

The 20 drivers with the fastest lap times would be invited to a New Zealand finals event and the overall winner at that event would win a trip to compete with international winners at the world-famous Silverstone circuit in England as part of a five day GT Academy 2010 driver boot camp.

SCE said the top driver at the boot camp would win the right to race a full season in the European GT4 Cup in a Nissan 370Z prepared by RJN Motorsport. The opening race was currently scheduled for May, 2010

This year is the first time New Zealand drivers have been able to take part in the competition, which has previously only been held in Europe.

Last year the GT Academy unearthed Lucas Ordoñez, a 23-year-old Spanish student.He graduated from is PlayStation 3 console to race a Nissan 350Z through a full European GT4 Cup season alongside British driver Alex Buncombe .

The pair's record included two race wins and two second-place finishes, leaving them second in the drivers' classification, but winners of the Teams' Championship.

Gran Turismo series creator Kazunori Yamauchi said making Gran Turismo as close to the real driving experience was always one of his aims and he was pleased with the academy's success.

"To witness the level of driving achieved by GT players after a relatively short space of time at the GT Academy was very satisfying for me and I look forward to seeing the 2010 finalists in action."