Videogamer starts real life racing career against living legend


This weekend sees the latest GT Academy winner, 20-year-old Jann Mardenborough, begin his first full season as a real racing driver. We hate him.

We hate him not only because he's managed to turn being quite good at Gran Turismo into doing racing in real life, but also because he's a very pleasant, very talented young man. Jealousy. Pure jealousy.

We met Jann recently, when Nissan invited us to Sunderland to have a go in the Juke R, and a more humble, amiable racer you're unlikely to meet. He exuded a sort of 'I can't believe this is happening to me' vibe, while scaring the crap out of us in the passenger seat of a very fast shopping trolley.

Well, this weekend, the dream of anyone that's ever seriously played Gran Turismo (or Forza, or any racing game, for that matter) will come true for Jann, as he lines up against nine-time motorcycle racing living legend Valentino Rossi.

Now, we know what you're thinking - but this isn't just some pretend 'bike vs. car' showoff publicity stunt race. No, Rossi has decided to double his wheel count this season, and is racing in a Ferrari 458 in the Blancpain Endurance Series, starting this weekend at Monza.

Jann entered GT Academy only one year ago, posting a lap time from his bedroom (probably) without really thinking it was going to lead to anything. The rest is history. He'll line up against Rossi's Ferrari - as well as some Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, McLarens, BMWs and a few others - in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. More than 55 cars will line up on the grid at the weekend.

"I've never even been to Monza before let alone raced there," he said. "I've driven it on the PlayStation so I know which way the corners go and I can't wait to get out there for real. Monza has incredible history and I really hope I can grab a moment to go and check out the old banking that the F1 cars raced on in years gone by."

So there you go, kids. As Gabrielle said, dreams can come true, look at me babe, I'm with you, you know you've got to have hope, you know you've got to be strong.

Powerful stuff.