It’s been a good year for Bryan Heitkotter.  At the start of the year, Heitkotter was an unemployed parts delivery driver with a knack for beating other players at Gran Turismo 5.

He was also battling to win a spot at the GT Academy, which attempts to take the best video game drivers and turn them into professional racers. Heitkotter’s talents not only earned him a spot in the Nissan and Playstation sponsored event, they proved good enough for him to take the championship.

Things didn’t get easier after Heitkotter’s victory, which was featured on a Speed TV reality series (also called GT Academy). In July, he began a six-month driver development program, which includes intense coaching on driving, diet and exercise.

Heitkotter’s next step is a sponsored ride in a Nissan 370Z endurance racer, shared with European GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough, at January’s 24 Hours of Dubai. What happens after that is limited only by Heitkotter’s talent, determination and ability to attract sponsors.

As Autoweek points out, the original GT Academy winner, Lucas Ordonez, managed to springboard his GT Academy experience into a professional driving career. In this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ordonez and his teammates managed a second place finish in the LMP2 class, driving the number 26 Signatech Nissan.