From gamer to racing driver

Giles Richards for The Guardian:

At eight, Jann [Mardenborough] thought he might have a chance of making it as a racing driver. Steve, an ex-professional footballer, had taken him to a kart circuit, and before long the owner took notice and told Steve his son was a natural. But finance proved the stumbling block. The local track closed down and the nearest alternative was in Bristol. “I stopped when I was 11,” says Jann, “because it got too expensive.”..

In the middle of 2011, Mardenborough had entered an online competition on Gran Turismo 5 that offered one final shot at the real thing. Out of 90,000 other virtual racers, he made it into the top eight in Europe and won the chance to test himself against other gamers in a real car at Brands Hatch. That he had kept it to himself for so long was entirely in character for a boy who did not like to make a fuss. “At that point we had no idea what it was,” admits Steve.

Seven months later, in January this year, Mardenborough, who’d never set foot in a racing car, was at the wheel of a serious piece of kit in the Dubai 24 Hour race – and at the beginning of what appears to be a very exciting career.