While carving out a career for himself in Japan, Nissan GT Academy star Jann Mardenborough hasn’t ruled out returning to some of the world-renowned endurance races, with the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring among the races on his radar screen.
The 26-year-old, who has stepped up to the Super GT500 class this year in Team Impul’s Nissan GT-R while also taking part in the highly-touted Super Formula series, has revealed ambitions of an expanded calendar for next year, targeting a return to prototype racing.
Mardenborough, who won Nissan’s gamer-to-racer initiative in 2011, finished third in the LMP2 class in his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in 2013, followed by an outing in Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s Nissan-backed Oreca 05 LMP2 entry at Sebring the following year.
His focus, however, has shifted to Japan following the ill-fated Nissan LMP1 program in 2015, having since taken part in two seasons of Super GT and various open-wheel championships, including an outing at the Macau Grand Prix last year.
“I like to drive as many categories and championships possible,” Mardenborough told Sportscar365. “Right now, with Japan, I’m focused on that. It’s my main priority.
“But when there is a gap, I’d love to do the big races like Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring… These kind of races are the ones I’m itching to drive.”
Mardenborough said he’s been keeping an eye on developments in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, particularly with the recent success of the Tequila Patron ESM effort, which runs a pair of Nissan Onroak DPis.
“It’s on my radar,” he said. “The car looks ace and looks cool to drive. It’s had a bit more success later in the season, so I’d love to be involved with it. That would be really cool.
“I’d love to be involved at Daytona with ESM or whether it’d be something else. If the opportunity ever came about and I was able to do it, I’d be more than happy to race in this race.”
ESM Would “Welcome” NISMO Athletes
ESM team owner Scott Sharp has admitted the possibility of drafting in Nissan-contracted drivers to its lineup.
The Florida-based squad recently confirmed that Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek will all return for a full-season campaign next year, although has yet to name additional drivers for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.
Brendon Hartley and Bruno Senna will join them for next month’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, with Hartley unlikely to continue in that capacity next year due to his pending IndyCar deal with Chip Ganassi Racing.
“We’ve talked about it in the past, as the deal first started coming together, about bringing some of the [Nissan] factory drivers over,” Sharp told Sportscar365. “It hasn’t happened yet but we’d welcome that for sure.
“I don’t know [Jann] but I’ve heard a lot of great things about him. He seems plenty quick, so certainly that’s a name that will come up.”