'PlayStation racer' signed up to compete at GP3

Three years ago Jann Mardenborough had never even been to a racing track, let alone driven on one.

But he fancied his video game skills and entered Nissan's GT Academy competition while on a gap year.

After beating 90,000 other gamers at racing simulation game Gran Turismo, Jann was offered the chance to train as a professional driver.

He's now joining Arden Motorsport to compete in the 2014 GP3 series, which is just two rungs below Formula 1.

The 22-year-old from Cardiff has also been taken on by Infiniti Red Bull's driver development programme.

'Big boy time'

Jann says winning GT Academy was a huge shock: "I thought I was pretty good because I could beat my friends on my street, but it was the first time trial I ever entered.

"I just wanted to see how I stacked up against people across Europe but I didn't expect to win. No way I thought that!"

Jann Mardenborough
Jann Mardenborough tries out the Red Bull Racing driver development simulator

Since 2011 he has competed in British GT, Formula 3's European Championship, and a series in New Zealand, but describes the latest step up as "big boy time".

GP3 launched in 2010 and follows the entire European leg of the Formula 1 season.

That means Jann will be racing at Silverstone on the same weekend as the British Grand Prix.

"There's a lot more power, more downforce, and it's going to be more difficult to shine.

"But it's in the shop window on the same weekend as Formula 1, on the same tracks, and in front of all the right people."

Three of the four GP3 championship winners have graduated to Formula 1.

Jann says that's the dream, but still just a dream for now.

"It's the top of motorsport and it's what I want to achieve. That would be amazing if it happened but I'm not trying to plan things out.

"I just want to live in the moment and go as hard as I can - see what happens after that."

And is he still gaming?

"I still play Gran Turismo, play a few shooting games," says Jann.

"It's not quite the same, but you can't always be in a racing car!

"But even for new tracks I still use it as a bit of testing, to learn the tracks.

"You don't want to be go into Stowe and miss your breaking point - so you can take a few risks on the game that you wouldn't take in real life."

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