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Gamers transformed to real life racers

Wolfgang Reip (front), won the 2012 Nissan GT Academy and is now a professional racing driver. Source: Supplied

It's a stinking hot Bathurst day at Mount Panorama, the ferocious sounds of race cars engulf all we can hear as qualifying takes place for the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour.

"I have to pinch myself quite a lot to realise what's happening," says Wolfgang Reip, one of the drivers in this year's Nissan GT-R entry. "I never thought in my life I would be in Australia, let alone be racing here," the 26-year-old Belgian said.

Reip didn't start his career the typical way, coming up though the ranks of amateur Formula Ford races or race sport sedans. In fact, the most racing experience he had came from the indoor go-karting he did when he was a kid.

Although he always dreamt of pursuing a career as a professional race driver, the high costs of the sport stopped that dream from becoming a reality. That was until he heard about the GT Academy.

The international competition  gives Gran Turismo players the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a real-life professional driver. Any player who can prove their driving skills in the virtual world can compete on a real track in a real car to win a spot on the Nissan racing team. That was the path that led Reip from Belgium to Bathurst.

GT Academy is looking good for Aussie hopefuls too, with both Nissan Australia's Chris Jordan and Bob Neville confirming there was a lot of interest in bringing the program here at some point in the near future.

Who knows, maybe it could be you racing with Nissan at next year's Bathurst 12 Hour?

Read full story at www.news.com.au