In the build up to the first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Sebring, www.TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk spoke to Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough.
Racing for the last American Le Mans Series P1 champions Muscle Milk, Mardenborough has raved about the learning experience given to him by both the team and drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf: “It’s the first time I have been in an open top SportsCar since Le Mans and having them on board as my team mates with all the experience they have is great for me because I’m just learning so much because they have raced out in America for so many years.
“They know Sebring like the back of their hand. Klaus has done so many laps round there with the old LMP2 cars like the Porsche RS Spyder. The team as well have a lot of knowledge having raced for many years and it’s a very professional outfit so it is good to see them in a Nissan engine car.”
Of course it was important to ask his views on the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he and the Nissan backed Greaves Motorsport team finished fourth on the road but got promoted to the podium thanks to a disqualification ahead of them. His answer was one that I didn’t expect: “To be honest when I crossed the line I was furious and quite angry because we had been racing for 24 hours and everyone had done an amazing job. To finish fourth was a bit of a disappointment because I really wanted to be on the podium with all the teams. But then when the news was that one team had been disqualified I was happy but at the same time I was quite sad because I couldn’t go on the podium.”
Now though, Jann’s biggest focus is the 2014 GP3 Series with Christian Horner’s team Arden International.
The single seater push started last year with a driver in the European F3 Championship with Carlin, in a career move that surprised even the man himself: “That was Nissan’s decision. They said some testing had come about in a Formula Two car and then later in a Formula Three car. I presumed at the time it was just to get used to downforce for the 2013 LMP2 car for Le Mans or an LMP2 season.
“So yeah I was surprised when it got announced that I was doing F3 because it was something which I was completely new to and Nissan themselves are heavily involved in street cars but Nissan understood that it would be a really good championship. As well as allowing me to develop as a driver, I mean it’s worked out really well because I’ve learnt a hell of a lot last year in F3. It’s been an invaluable experience.”
Now that solid season in F3 has translated into something much bigger, thanks to a simulator partnership – stemming from Jann’s Gran Turismo 5 experience – with Red Bull Racing and Arden: “I can come down to their workshops with my engineer from Arden and prepare for a weekend on the simulator and we discuss set up changes or work on certain procedures in areas that need improving.
“I’m on their simulator which is very high tech so it’s a really good position to progress and learn a lot. I’m going to learn a lot from them anyway, it’s the amount of detail they focus on because it is the small details which obviously count over the last four years of them winning championships.”
For Jann Mardenborough, his first race for Arden is in Catalunya in May where he will try to take the world of single seaters by storm.