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UK gamer turned racer signed by Red Bull

Mon, 17 Feb 2014

When Nissan and PlayStation got together to develop the GT Academy, and started offering Gran Tursimo gamers the chance to become real-life racers, surely no-one expected the programme to be so incredibly successful.

GT Academy graduates have raced all over the world, competing in all kinds of cars and succeeding in many famous events – including at Le Mans. Now 2011 GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough could well be on his way to Formula One.

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22 year old Mardenborough, who was born in Darlington and grew up in Cardiff, will campaign a GP3 single-seater during 2014, having just signed a deal with 2013 GP3 championship winning team Arden International.

This follows his runner-up spot in the New Zealand-based TRS single-seater championship last year. GP3 is regarded as a feeder series for the ultimate single-seater contest, Formula One.

What’s more, Mardenborough has also been selected for the Infiniti Red Bull Racing intensive driver development programme. With two F1 teams on its books, Red Bull is well known for bringing along new talent, so this really does place Mardenborough within reach of what many regard as the pinnacle of motorsport.

While some may note with cynicism that Infiniti is a Nissan brand, there would be little point wasting the time and money on anyone who didn’t genuinely deserve a place here – and Mardenborough has proven time and again he has the raw pace to compete with anybody, even after just two years of professional racing.

Red Bull Racing’s driver development manager, Andy Damerum:

“We’re delight to welcome Jann onto our programme. We have been tracking Nissan’s innovative approach to motorsport and particularly GT Academy that challenges the status quo of motorsport.

“The traditional route to F1 of karting and single-seaters is a tried and tested success but Nissan and PlayStation have gone down a very different road and started to find some very talented drivers who have been doing all their practicing on a games console.

“I’m very interested to see how Jann fares on our programme and in GP3 this season and I look forward to taking him under the Infiniti Red Bull Racing wing to further progress his career.”

Mardenborough is clearly looking forward to the challenge:

“I haven’t raced the GP3 car yet. But going on initial testing, I prefer the GP3 car to an F3 car. The power is very addictive! This season is my opportunity to impress more people in the sport who make the decision on who makes it into F1 and who doesn’t and I’m going to give it my best shot.”

Speaking about GT Academy more generally, Nissan’s director of global motorsport, Darren Cox:

“Jann’s progress is just the tip of the iceberg for the success of the graduates of GT Academy. Last year we took 41 podiums around the world including Le Mans, the Spa 24 hours and the Dubai 24 hours and won two championships in the GT-R Nismo.

“The innovation is now obvious to everyone who looks into the details, however like most innovations this was not the case when we kicked the programmed off six years ago. Nissan and PlayStation have brought motorsport to a new generation of digital fans.”

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