The 2012 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy has opened, giving anyone with a control pad and a dream another chance to following young gamer Jann Mardenborough into a real racing career. It's possibly the best competition ever. Apart from the lottery and the Apprentice sweepstake we're running at the moment.

If you're not aware already, the GT Academy is the online competition that allows anyone with a PS3 and an internet connection to have a go at becoming a real racing driver. It's based on Gran Turismo 5, though entrants don't need a copy of the game because the initial eight-step qualification challenge is a free download.

Entrants have eight weeks to take on the virtual track-based challenges, with the best competitors going on to the next round.

"This time around, we've designed a GT Academy qualification format as part of the Gran Turismo series on an unprecedented scale and aimed towards a wide variety of players," said Kazunori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital.

The download is also a preview of the ongoing development of Gran Turismo 6 - the next instalment of the game. It's a far more varied qualification process than before, featuring a variety of cars and track scenarios; previously, qualification had involved setting a single fast lap in a Nissan 370Z.

The competition closes at midnight on 25 June, with six winners from each region entering a 'boot camp', before they're whittled down to one winner.

So it's sort of like X-Factor, but without having to perform in front of a vain and sardonic judging panel, or face the very real possibility that your lack of talent will become the subject of hysterical nationwide disdain.