VIRTUAL-TO-REALITY, Gamer-to-Racer, Sim-to-Win. Call it what you like. Jann Mardenborough showed the world he has got what it takes to win in GP3 against the cream of the crop of single-seater racing talent.
A polished and composed drive from pole position saw Mardenborough take the chequered flag for Arden Motorsport as the winner of race two at Hockenheim.
Mardenborough was a student on a gap year when he won the 2011 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy competition. Since then, he has been a model student of Nissan’s driver development programme and has become an incredible professional racing driver. Just over a month ago, his performance at the Le Mans 24 Hours caused a great deal of excitement and yesterday he took everything he has learned and turned it into victory in GP3, the series for aspiring Formula One drivers.
He had a tough time at his ‘home’ GP3 event at Silverstone two weeks ago. After struggling for grip in both races he knew he had his work cut out if he was going to turn it around for Hockenheim.
“I learned at Silverstone that I need to look after my tyres,” said Mardenborough. “Since then, the team has worked hard with me, both at the workshop and in the Red Bull simulator. During race one I started 14th but worked hard to manage my tyre wear, and sure enough when some of the others ‘fell off the cliff’ I was able to get up to eighth place, which I was very pleased about. The tyre wear on Saturday was amplified by the heat, so it was good that the team had drilled all this information into me and I was able to manage the situation.”
Eighth place in race one means pole position for race two. Mardenborough is known for having a very cool head when under pressure and yesterday it showed. He controlled the race from the front like the true professional he is.
“I got a good start and was able to control the pace,” he explained. “I could push when I wanted to push and ease off when I wanted to. It feels so good to win. The only time I ever drink Champagne is when I win a race – not a podium finish, only a win – and I haven’t tasted it since February so it tasted good today! I call it Winner’s Juice!”
The winner also took the fastest lap of the race.
GT Academy is now in its sixth year and the finals for this year’s programmes are currently taking place with the best gamers from all over Europe, USA, Middle East and new markets Australia, India, Mexico and Thailand.
“The training that Nissan gives us is amazing,” said Mardenborough. “For me to get to this level in single-seaters just shows how good the programme is. It’s not a case of winning GT Academy and going racing at all. They push us hard, every day. I keep learning and progressing all the time and today’s result proves that it works.”
Darren Cox, NISMO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, said: “This is an incredible result for Jann and a great day for Nissan and for GT Academy. We’re all very proud of him and believe that this is just the beginning of his story.”