Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) has announced that over one million downloads of the GT Academy Time Trial have been recorded in the three weeks since it went live on 17 December, 2009.

GT Academy 2010 is a competition set up by Nissan and PlayStation to unearth a real racing driver from the virtual world of the hugely successful Gran Turismo race simulation game. Run across 15 European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, 19 winners will have the chance to take part in a racing driver ‘boot camp’ at Silverstone Circuit. The eventual, overall winner will take the controls of a real Nissan 370Z race car to compete for a full season in the European GT4 Cup as experienced by Lucas Ordonez in 2009.

The Time Trial stage of GT Academy has given gamers the chance to download a new section of Gran Turismo, offering a small taste of what is to come in the new Gran Turismo 5 due for release later this year. The download features the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, a newcomer to the Gran Turismo series. Players drive the circuit using a standard, road-going virtual version of Nissan’s new 370Z and a race-tuned version of the same car.

Their combined lap times give them their position on their territory leader board. The fastest 20 players from each territory, when the competition closes at midnight GMT on 24 January, will then battle it out at a live national final event. Nineteen winners, from across the participating territories, will be invited to take part in the five-day GT Academy 2010 event at Silverstone to be schooled by the race circuit’s instructors.

Sony’s Playstation 3 console

“Hitting one million downloads of the GT Academy Time Trial from the 17 participating countries alone is a very important milestone,” explained the creator of the Gran Turismo games and president of Polyphony Digital Inc., Kazunori Yamauchi.

“We created the Time Trial purely as the mechanic to run the first phase of GT Academy 2010. The massive interest is testament to the strong GT Academy concept that offers the chance to make a dream come true. But it also clearly demonstrates the popularity of Gran Turismo. This Time Trial is only a tiny sample of what is to come in Gran Turismo 5, so it is particularly pleasing to have seen such a positive reaction to it.”