He caused a stir when he came to New Zealand to race in Toyota Racing Series last year, the first of a new breed of racer drawn from the world of gaming and online racing. He finished his debut championship tenth overall and first rookie. It was his first step into a formula ‘wings and slicks’ race car.
Now Jann Mardenborough is third overall in this year’s championship and has posted fastest time in the final test sessions going into the second round of TRS 2014.
At Timaru’s Levels Raceway today, he topped the timesheets in the first session with a 57.690 ahead of Steijn Schothorst, then set a lap time of 57.232 in the second of three sessions today at Levels Raceway near Timaru. Second in that session was Singapore driver Andrew Tang, with a 57.380. Andrew Tang then set the fastest time in the third session with a 57.414 on his last lap of the session.
But it was Mardenborough who took the day with that 57.232, well under the existing lap record of 57.847 set by current TRS champion Nick Cassidy in 2013.
Though official lap records can only be set in racing, today’s top lap times suggest the record is under threat.
It was an incident-packed day, with spins and off-track excursions for Matevos Isaakyan, Gustavo Lima, Macauley Jones, Matt Rao and Egor Orudzhev among others. Orudzhev’s was one of the more serious incidents, bringing the third session to a close when he slid off the track at high speed and tore suspension off his car.
The fastest New Zealander across the three sessions was Brendon Leitch, fifth fastest in the second session with a 57.928.
With fifteen races at five circuits over consecutive weekends, the Toyota Racing Series attracts rising drivers from around the world, drawn by the prospect of up to 3000 km of practice, qualifying and racing in the northern hemisphere winter season.
It offers aspiring local racers the chance to compete in modern ‘wings-and-slicks’ open-wheel race cars before heading offshore to the next step in their careers.
For the international drivers, the series offers five weeks of intense racing action that propels them back into their northern hemisphere seasons ready to win races and championships.
The championship is also among New Zealand’s most significant sports television ‘exports’, with the racing screened in up to 40 countries around the world. New Zealand coverage is on Prime and SKY TV.
The 23-strong TRS grid returns to the track for back to back qualifying sessions tomorrow morning and then the first race of the weekend tomorrow afternoon.