In spite of his heroic efforts displayed on track this year in the Super GT series, the top step of the podium eluded Jann Mardenborough this past weekend. After missing the 2016 All-Japan F3 title by a narrow margin, a very similar scenario befell the GT Academy grad at Motegi. Ater two back-to-back 250 km races at the circuit, Jann and his co-driver Kazuki Hoshino settled their team B-Max NDDP GT-R at 4th position in the GT300 class.
Last month Jann and Kazuki made a plausible step towards winning the class by scoring a podium finish at Chang circuit. This was the team’s second victory after the 500 km Fuji event held last May. A season of consistency put the B-Max squad only two points behind VivaC, the leading GT300 team represented by drivers Takeshi Tsuchiya and Takamitsu Matsui.
The first round at Motegi kicked off this Saturday, preceded by a single qualifying session with Kazuki taking the driving role. Setting a lap of 1’59.629 was enough for 21st place, pitting the team at the bottom of the class. In the race the team managed to climb up a bit and secure 13th position, but as VivaC finished 7th, this improvement couldn’t be seen as successful.
The point difference between the two teams had now increased to 6. “Weird race for us. Examining why currently right now. Have useful info from one of the sister GT-R’s. Still second in the championship,” said Mardenbourough post-race. Check out the entire race above (the recording starts at 14:15).
The second race held on Sunday brought better results, but once again not good enough to beat the rival Toyota. This time the qualifying duties fell to Jann, who finished 14th by notching a lap of 1’47.753. Although B-Max eventually finished the race 6th, team VivaC stormed the competition by taking the top spot after 50 laps of enduring challenge.
VivaC thus won the GT300 class with 97 points in stock whereas B-Max NDDP dropped back to 4th place with 76 points, tied with Audi Team Hitotsuyama (#21) and having one point less than second-positioned team APR (#31). Watch the race below (the recording starts at 03:56).
Up in the top-dog GT500 class, former F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen clinched his first win of the season with Lexus teammate Kohei Hirate. A season of consistency meant this gave the team the 2016 title, as defending champs Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli (in the GT500-spec Nissan GT-R) fumbled their points lead and ended the season in third.
While far from an ideal weekend for the Nissan crew in either class, it was nonetheless an exciting season. GTPlanet looks forward to watching more of Jann’s motorsport career in 2017!
For more details on the races or the 2016 Super GT season in general, please visit the Super GT official site.