Jann Mardenborough completes qualification laps at Le Mans Test Day.
In recent years GT Academy has become a major chapter in Nissan’s Le Mans story. In 2011 Lucas Ordonez, the winner of the first GT Academy competition in 2008, became the first gamer to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Lucas set the bar high by taking a podium finish in the 2011 race.
Jann completed his first year of racing in the British GT Championship, racing the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. He narrowly missed out on winning the title but caught the eye of the motorsport establishment. By the end of year one he had been awarded Rising Star status by the British Racing Driver’s Club, invited to join the MSA Academy and been nominated for numerous accolades including an Autosport Award.
At the start of 2013 it was decided that Jann would compete at Le Mans this year. As he had been racing solely in GT cars he needed to learn how to drive cars with downforce in readiness for the LMP2 car he would drive at Le Mans. To fast track his racing education he was placed in the ultra competitive FIA European Formula 3 Championship and selected rounds of the British Formula 3 Series.
Just two weeks ago Jann took his first F3 podium and now he is at Le Mans, where he has just completed the final preparations for the race of his life.
Joining Jann in the Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan is Nismo Ambassador and Super GT racer Michael Krumm and the original gamer-turned-racer Lucas Ordonez. As the only Le Mans rookie of the team one of the primary jobs of today was for him to complete the mandatory 10 laps of the 13.629km circuit to qualify as a Le Mans entrant.
“It all became very real when I was strapped into the car this morning to do my rookie laps,” said Jann. “The first time down the Mulsanne Straight was very cool as you get a real sensation of speed from the road markings. My favourite part though was Indianapolis as you take a lot of speed into the corner then after that there is very little run off so it definitely grabs your attention.
“In the last two years my life has changed beyond recognition,” he continued. “To be here at Le Mans, racing against drivers I watch on TV is an incredible feeling. I can’t wait for the race now so that I can back out there. The Mulsanne Straight, the Porsche Curves…it is all as good as everyone said it would be.”
Lucas Ordonez knows all about racing an LMP2 car at Le Mans, taking a podium on his debut in 2011 and then racing with Martin and Alex Brundle in 2012. Michael Krumm’s racing career has seen him compete in almost every type of car but today was the first time he drove an LMP2 car.
“The conditions were tricky today as it was half wet and half dry,” said Michael. “It’s exciting to be out in an open car again and I really enjoyed the torque and power of the Nissan engine. I can see why almost everyone chose this engine now. Today was all about learning about the car; finding the limit without going over it. We have made good preparation for Le Mans.”
With the test day complete all 15 Nissan-powered LMP2 cars are now ready for the challenges that await them, here at Le Mans, in just a few days time.