In his fourth season in Japan and third fighting for overall wins in the GT500 class, Mardenborough joins Kondo Racing to drive alongside Japanese ace Mitsunori Takaboshi aboard the No.24 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500.
The young stars pairing continues their working relationship from Nissan’s ABB FIA Formula E Championship programme. Takaboshi is the official test and reserve driver for Nissan e.dams in the all-electric championship while Mardenborough is the official simulator driver.
The duo both tested the new-for-season five “Gen2” Formula E car for Nissan in Marrakesh in January.
Martinborough twice came close to clinching his first overall Super GT win last year only for a mechanical issue and an off-track excursion by his teammate denying him the chance to stand on the top step of the podium.
The Welshman did, however, score his first GT500 class podium and now the 2011 Nissan GT Academy winner wants to score many more in 2019.
While initially renowned as the ultimate “gamer-to-race” – Mardenborough’s outstanding efforts in real-world racing have stamped as one of the fastest GT prototype racers in the world.
Mardenborough’s Kondo Racing team will again compete this season with Yokohama tyres in the highly competitive GT500 class which pits the Nissan GT-R against the Honda NSX and Lexus LC500.
While 2019 will again only feature the three Japanese marques in Super GT, an end-of-season combined “Class 1” rules package race the German DTM Series will spice up the action with BMW, Audi and Aston Martin heading to Japan for the season-ending event.
JANN MARDENBOROUGH Q&A
Q: HOW MUCH ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE OPENING ROUND?
A: “I’m hyped for the start of round one because it’s a new team, a new tyre. Everybody is hiding in testing so I’m looking forward to Q1 – just to see where we are in the pecking order with everyone else.
“My preparation this year has been the best it’s ever been going into a racing season. Physically, mentally, the atmosphere within the team, I feel prepared. I’m excited now to get in the car.”
Q: WHAT HAS TESTING BEEN LIKE WITH TEAM KONDO?
A: “For me it’s a different tyre with Yokohama compared to last year. Yokohama know the areas where they are strong and they know the areas where they can improve and it’s a great feeling to have a lot of influence on the development of the tyres.
“I have even more of an influence on that role, and they’re making progress and I like that.
“I’m sure we’re going to make big strides throughout the season, especially in long-run pace. Short runs, the car is very good, it feels great.”
Q: WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOU CAR WILL BE STRONGEST?
A: “The one lap pace. On some good circuits, Fuji, Sugo, Thailand it’ll be really strong. The car feels alive on new tyres. The response on the entry in the front is so strong, the car feels great in your hands on lap one. From a driving point of view, it gives feedback very quickly, that’s the main strength.
Q: WHERE HAS NISSAN MADE PROGRESS THIS YEAR WITH THE GT-R?
A: “There are little gains in downforce with revisions at the front. The engine as well, the guys at NISMO have given us a little bit more of a torquey engine that’s also better on fuel.
“Fuel mileage is critical in Super GT. We can push, we don’t have to save quite as much, so our pace during the race should be better.
“The chassis is also a little bit lighter, which helps the fuel mileage and also performance in general. If your car is lighter, it’s going to corner better, it’s going to be less hard on its tyres. “The weight is the big thing, that’s one of the biggest things you can feel. It’s something I’m really looking forward to in round one because in preseason testing everybody’s hiding what they have.”
Q: WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH MITSUNORI TAKABOSHI AS YOUR CO-DRIVER?
A: “It’s been great. We understand each other, especially since we work together in Formula E as well as working on the simulator and doing the last rookie test in Marrakesh.
“We get along great with the car and during feedback. He’s very open with the conversations and with the engineers and the team, which is perfect for me as a foreign driver in Japan. “When everyone is including you, that’s what you want, you get to hear all the information, and Mitsu is a part of that. And he’s fast as well. We’re learning from each other. And having a fast teammate makes for a good teammate. So far, our working relationship is very good.”
Q: HOW ARE YOU SETTLING INTO THE NEW TEAM?
A: “The Kondo guys are great. When I first met them, everyone was fist bumping me, which is pretty cool. They love to play western music in the garage on the speaker, pretty loud which is great.
“It’s quite a good atmosphere in the garage. The guys are really cool, they work really hard, the car is always beautifully prepared.
“The livery, the vinyl is always spotless, the car is always clean. Mechanically, the car is sound and gleaming inside and outside. Any request I want inside the car with the interior they’ll do. “They’re really quick with the pit stops too. That’s an area where we’re going to gain quite a bit of time I think, we’ll be strong there in the race.
“I have full confidence in the team. And Kondo-san himself, he understands drivers a lot because he’s a driver himself and he understands our mentality. He has good confidence in me and me in him. He’s encouraging on the radio as well.”
Q: WHAT IS YOUR TARGET FOR YOUR THIRD SEASON IN GT500?
A: “My aim this year is to win as many races as I can and to drive flat in every stint I’m in. Those are my two targets. I really want that first win.”
Source. Jann Mardenborough