Nissan PlayStation GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough received the biggest news of his career earlier this week with the announcement that he will contest Formula One feeder series, GP3 in 2014; but now the young star is also set to make his North American race debut.
The 22-year-old Mardenborough will join forces with back-to-back American Le Mans Series P1 championship-winning team, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing for the famous 12 Hours of Sebring in March.
The opportunity to race in the US for the first time comes through the Nismo Global Driver Exchange which places members of Nissan’s international driving squads into other championships and teams to gain experience on the world stage.
Mardenborough’s 2014 main programme was confirmed on Monday. He will contest the GP3 series with Arden International while also joining an intensive driver development program with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, the most successful Formula One team of recent times.
The British driver will add the Sebring event to his schedule, joining forces with German stars Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr who have pushed the Pickett Racing squad to championship success over the past two years.
His prototype sportscar experience peaked at last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours where he teamed up with Nissan veteran Michael Krumm and fellow GT Academy winner, Lucas Ordóñez to finish third in the P2 class.
Mardenborough completed his first laps aboard the No.6 Nissan-powered Oreca chassis at Sebring International Raceway yesterday at the winter test for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing will enter the Sebring event as the highest placed Le Mans-style prototype team after finishing fifth at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The 62nd running of the Florida endurance classic will feature a capacity field of 64 cars. The race will be staged on Saturday, March 15.
Nismo Athlete – Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Driver
“It has been a very big week for me. On Monday it was announced that I am going to be racing in GP3 this year with Arden and I am really looking forward to that.
“I am also going to be working with Infiniti Red Bull Racing on their Formula One simulator as well. I am in a perfect position to progress this year especially with the training and help from Red Bull that will add to my Nismo Driver Development Program.
“Now to be in Sebring and to be linked up with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing for the 12 Hours of Sebring is another great opportunity.
“I really like sportscars. That is where I started my racing and to now get the opportunity to race at Sebring for the first time is brilliant.
“This is such a historic venue and historic race. I have seen it so many times on TV and now I get the chance to race here.
“It looks like it is going to be a huge grid with the Daytona Prototype and P2 cars so that will be a first for me to race against those guys.
“I’m really fortunate to be part of the Nismo Exchange program – there are a number of Nismo Athletes who are getting the chance to race in different categories all over the world.
“There have been guys down in Bathurst, others in Japan – it is great because we get to experience different championships, cars, teams, co-drivers and even different languages. We come out of it even stronger from the experience.
“To get the chance to race at Sebring with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is a great opportunity. They have had great success with back-to-back ALMS championships and I’m looking forward to see what I can learn from Klaus (Graf) and Lucas (Luhr) who have both had tremendous success here in the US.”
Nissan Global Motorsports Director
“Although Jann will focus on GP3 this year – it is important he continues to keep racing in various categories to speed up his development and to highlight our global motorsport activity to his new fans. He will also learn by contesting Sebring with our partners at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing who are very strong on the engineering side of sportscars.
“He was impressive at Le Mans last year but this will be a whole new experience for him – learning about the bumps of Sebring.
“The Nismo Exchange has our young drivers racing in different categories in all parts of the world. We had three of our guys doing the Bathurst 12-Hour in Australia recently, our inaugural GT Academy champion Lucas Ordóñez will race full time in Japan this year and in reverse, we have young Japanese star Katsumasa Chiyo doing a full season in Europe.
“We’re delighted to have the opportunity for our Nismo Athletes to contest these major endurance events with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. They have been the team to beat in recent years and this provides a tremendous learning experience for our guys.”
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Team Manager
“It’s incredible what Jann has accomplished in such a short period of time since winning the Nissan GT Academy only a few years ago and we’re very excited to have him join us for the 12 Hours of Sebring and see what he can do aboard our Muscle Milk Nissan ORECA.
“Nissan has a great exchange program that allows drivers to test their skills on an international level, and by integrating them with drivers such as Klaus (Graf) and Lucas (Luhr), it allows them to learn even more by taking in the extra knowledge that such drivers have gained over the years.
“We’re very happy to be a part of that program thanks to our partnership with Nissan and very much look forward to the upcoming 12 Hours of Sebring.”