What were you doing before GT
I was maybe three months into my gap year, when around January-time I
entered GT Academy. I was at home, and all my friends had gone off travelling,
or had started University, so I was just playing PlayStation all day. My
parents weren’t too happy, but I didn’t have much else to do. That also meant I
could focus 100 per cent on qualifying.
How many hours of games a week did
I think before GT Academy I’d play every day for
about two hours, but when GT Academy started, for two weeks solid, probably a
solid four to five hours a day just to qualify. That’s, erm, a lot.
How did you first hear about GT
I heard about it in 2008 when there was a TV advert for the first one.
After that, I recognised it and happened to be on Gran Turismo at the time, noticed GT Academy was open
again and entered it from there. I missed 2010 as I was doing A-Levels and it
completely passed me by.
So was it a long process to get to
I started off at home, on the PlayStation, on a
six-week online time trial. After six weeks the top 20, including me, went to
the national event held over two days, where people got knocked out of the
competition until only two were left, who would then progress to the
international event held at Silverstone. That had 12 finalists in total. At
that point there’s no games involved, it’s all in-car stuff. And then you get
lots of different challenges at that point.
What was your reaction when you
As soon as I was announced and I stepped up onto
the podium, I just knew that my life was going to change, for the better, and
drastically so. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had.
Were you fit at the time? How tough
did you find real racing?
I’d say this year it’s definitely been a huge
challenge. Formula Three is a big step up from a GT car, anyway. In GT cars you get tired more from the
heat inside the cockpit. It’s pretty tough. I’d say the biggest thing is how
you look at other drivers. At home on the PlayStation you’re watching a
television so my eyes were constantly fixated on a screen, whereas being a
racing driver, you have to look at various things. My peripheral vision was a
big thing – you need a lot of training just to, literally, get your head around
it, and it felt really unnatural at first. Now it’s fine, but that was one of
the hardest things to adjust to.
Did you get much respect from your
fellow drivers at first?
I don’t really pay much attention to what other
people say. Obviously, there were one or two who gave me a wide berth, but the
reaction overall has been very good. I’ve got a lot of respect from other
drivers which is good. They think it’s a fantastic opportunity. Formula Three is a little bit different right now for me, because there are loads of young
guys involved all gunning for you, but definitely for GT cars, the reaction has been good.
What has been your racing
highlight to date?
Definitely Le Mans 2013 [as a rookie, Jann
outqualified his teammates and therefore did the first stint of the 24-hour
race]. Third in class on my first time out was just amazing stuff. I didn’t
feel great during my qualifying laps because there was too much traffic out
there, I think the pace was a lot more top five. But in the race it doesn’t really
matter about qualifying too much because it’s over 24 hours.
Were you nervous of such a big race
on such a big stage?
I didn’t get intimidated by Le Mans before I
raced there. Yes, you’re aware of the actual people that are taking part in
that track, so in that sense you do get a bit of a spine-tingling sensation,
but then you’ve got a job to do and focus on the task in hand. You can’t focus
on your emotions too much.
What’s your favourite track?
The Norisring in Germany. If you look at it on a
piece of paper, it’s just a dual carriageway with a couple of hairpins thrown in and a chicane, but it’s so much more than that, so many bumps, little tricks; it’s a very technical circuit.
Do you miss your gaming days?
No, I love what I do now, to be honest – it’s the
perfect thing. There isn’t as much free time involved, but no complaints at all
What advice would you give to GT
Dedication is the biggest thing. It’s very easy
to get all high and mighty with your head in the clouds very quickly in this sport, because sometimes you have so many things going for you. Push yourself a 100
per cent all the time and never give up. It’s very easy to start slacking. Don’t take shortcuts. Always pursue your target.
What’s the most terrifying racecar
None are terrifying, if I’m honest. I’d say that
the most exciting was probably a World Series car I tested recently, that was mega. 530-odd
horsepower, 710kg with the driver and it’s got DRS – a proper, proper car that.
The most exciting and fastest car I’d ever driven. But my most terrifying
moment in a car would probably have been at Le Mans, going out on cut-slicks in
a qualifying session, and it was damp. At one end of the Indianapolis corner it
was soaking wet; I remember aquaplaning off the road and into the grass.
Luckily, I didn’t hit anything but that was terrifying. Quite horrible.
Do you ever get scared?
Everybody gets a little bit scared of something,
but no, you can’t bring any emotion into it. There are scary times, of course,
but you can’t afford to go into a race being scared.
What are your plans for next
I’m a bit unsure just yet. I’ll definitely be
racing, GP3 might be on the cards for next year, World Series might be on the cards, there’s the possibility of F3 or prototypes. It all sounds promising; I just don’t know what in yet.
What’s your ultimate racing
Formula One. That’s the absolute pinnacle. But
also, competing at the top class at Le Mans – in LMP1 – would be hugely
appealing as well, if that ever happens. Formula One’s the ultimate goal
Who is your racing hero?
It’s quite weird, because I’ve got quite a few.
Colin McCrae, Tommi Mäkinen, people like Rickard Rydell and Alain Menu –
touring and rally car drivers – that’s what I used to watch as a child, and, of
course, Lewis Hamilton.
Which classic car would you like to
Classic car? Oof, that’s interesting. I’ve
recently been looking at a few recently – one’s a childhood car that I’ve
always wanted, and now I’ve got the opportunity to get one. It’s the E39 BMW
M5. It’s probably going to cost me quite a lot, too.
So how has GT Academy changed your
It’s changed my life massively. I went from zero
to, well, not hero, but having everything I ever wanted really. For me there are no cons. When you fill out any form, and it asks you for your job title and you fill out “racing driver” that’s awesome, isn’t it?
Has it helped get more, ahem,
[Laughs] It certainly helps, yes.