Despite suffering a late-race technical issue at Fuji, which robbed Nissan Super GT ace Jann Mardenborough of his first GT500 series win, the Welshman remains confident that success is around the corner.
Mardenborough and Daiki Sasaki looked set to take their first GT500 win together as co-drivers after dominating 94 laps of the last weekend’s 500-mile race.
Mardenborough made a pass for the lead on lap 55 of the 177-lap race, and he and Sasaki continued to dominate the race from that point forward – opening up a gap of more than 25 seconds.
The former GT Academy winner completed his final stint on lap 143 of 177 to hand over to Sasaki – but the Japanese driver returned to the pits six laps later after suffering a loss of power.
“I’m obviously very disappointed with what happened but I know if we keep rolling out with that kind of speed, then our day will come,” Mardenborough said.
“The team, Nissan, Daiki and Bridgestone all did an incredible job, and it is pretty shattering that we lost the race by a small pipe coming loose in the engine bay.
“Once we had opened up a lead of about 25 seconds we really were in cruise mode and concentrating on not making mistakes and or getting caught in traffic.
“Everyone was pretty shattered, but we proved we had the pace to be real contenders and I can’t wait to get back in the car next month in Sugo.”
Mardenborough made his GT500 debut last year and looked set for his first podium – or even a win – in Thailand last year.
Howee, the Calsonic-sponsored GT-R ran out of fuel several laps short of the finish.
“I had a car that was almost this strong in Thailand last year, but we had a refuelling issue – and now this,” Mardenborough said.
“That bad luck is going to come to an end one day soon.
“I really wanted that first podium before, but after last weekend, I really want that win.”
Mardenborough made his debut in Japan in 2016 in the GT300 class – winning for the first time at Fuji, after serving as one of the standout stars of Nissan’s GT Academy program.
His development program included stints in British GT, Blancpain GT, Formula 3, GP3 and Formula Nippon. He scored a podium with Greaves Motorsport at Le Mans in 2013 and was also part of Nissan’s ill-fated LMP1 program.
“I still have to pinch myself that seven years ago I entered a PlayStation gaming competition and now I’m out on track racing against guys like Jenson Button, Heikki Kovalainen, Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi who I used to watch racing in F1,” he said.
“And to race the Calsonic car which I used to drive on PlayStation is quite remarkable.
“But once I’m strapped in, and the team closes the door – I’m ready to race and what happened at Fuji only makes me more determined and more hungry.”