Jann Mardenborough won the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy competition in 2011, earning the chance to take part in professional racing. Backed by Nissan, he has since competed extensively in sports car racing and completed one season in single seaters; he’s finished with a class podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours and as runner-up in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand.
As part of the Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver development programme, he will race for Arden International in this year’s GP3 Championship – one of the most important feeder series for Formula One.
I started gaming when I was seven
Playing Gran Turismo on the original PlayStation, really just racing games, I played the odd shooting game now and then but the majority of it was racing, I’ve always had a passion for Gran Turismo and to drive cars I’d probably never, ever, get to drive.
For my A-levels I designed a gaming pod to race in
I made it out of MDF wood and bought myself a wheel paddle with some money I saved up, and then I was away. About a year later GT Academy came round, and served me pretty well.
Winning GT Academy was the best moment of my life
I knew that my life was going to change massively. After that, the first time I drove a fast GT car, a fast road car, that was a pretty cool moment – to be released round Silverstone in a 500-horse power Nissan GT-R was pretty crazy for a 19-year-old.
The transition from videogame to real-life driving wasn’t that difficult
The controls and physics engines in games these days are crazy, they take real-life data from cars and then put them into code so that the way that the car pitches and brakes and the steering input works very well in racing games.
Of course you feel the G-force which you don’t in the game, but you’re so tightly strapped into the seat, that it’s not really an issue.