Interview by Paul Salfen
Gamer turned racer Jann Mardenborough talks about Gran Turismo in this interview with Paul Salfen. British motorsport superstar Jann Mardenborough’s unbelievable true story is told in the new Sony Pictures’ film Gran Turismo (in theatres now) starring Archie Madekwe (“See”), David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) and Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean). The extraordinaryMardenborough served as co-producer, stunt driver, and consultant on the fantastic video game adaption film based on his life.
Gran Turismo is a spectacular action-packed drama film based on The PlayStation Studios video game Gran Turismo. A team of unlikely underdogs – a struggling working-class gamer, Jann Mardenborough (played by Archie Madekwe), a failed former racecar driver (David Harbour), and an idealistic Nissan motorsport marketing executive (Orlando Bloom). Together, they risk it all to take on the most elite sport in the world. Gran Turismo is an inspiring, thrilling story that proves that nothing is impossible when you’re fueled from within.
Nissan’s revolutionary driver discovery and development programme, GT Academy, struck gold in 2011 when it unearthed the raw talent of Jann Mardenborough. Mardenborough was a student on a gap year when he heard about GT Academy. He knew he was pretty handy with his PS3 but could his skills in the virtual world be transferred just as successfully onto the race track? You bet they could.
In 2011 Mardenborough won Nissan’s PlayStation GT Academy competition, earning a drive with Nissan in the Dubai 24 Hour. He finished third in class on debut. In 2013 he competed at Le Mans for the very first time, scoring a third in the LMP2 class at the end of the 24 hour race with Lucas Ordonez and Michael Krumm. Mardenborough also competed in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
Tragedy struck in 2015 at Nürburgring. During a pivotal race, Jann attempted to get ahead of the competition, but in the process, he lost control of his vehicle, which careened into a crowd of spectators. Jann was told it was a freak accident and wasn’t his fault, but in the hospital, it was revealed that the collision resulted in a person’s death. In the film, it serves as the lowest point of the character’s journey, where he questions whether he wants to continue racing. And that accident actually did happen in 2015 at the Nürburgring in Germany.
Mardenborough has his sights set on the 2023/2024 racing season. Since departing Super GT at the end of 2020, Jann worked on development for Formula E for both Nissan and McLaren for the Gen 3 car. With the team’s leadership change, he parted ways with Nissan and is now a free agent. His target for next year would be Hypercar and doing GT3 racing as well in IMSA.