Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
British, 23, Motorsport
The gamer-turned-racer now competing at the top level
Representatives: GT Academy/Nissan
Key partners: Nissan, Red Bull
2014 ranking: New entry
More than a few eyebrows were raised a few years back when Nissan and Playstation announced they would be running a competition to find a gamer and turn them into a professional racing driver. Not now. Jann Mardenborough, a British university drop-out with a passion – and, evidently, skill – for video games was among the first graduates of the Nissan GT Academy and has been by some distance the most successful.
Steered carefully by Nissan and its motorsport division, Nismo, since 2011 he has been guided through the international motorsport ranks, managing an impressive third place LMP2 class finish on his Le Mans debut in 2013. In 2015, the 23-year-old will ascend to the top class of the World Endurance Championship, as Nissan steps up to challenge Audi, Porsche and champions Toyota in the LMP1 category of a series gathering momentum – and manufacturers – by the year.
The Nissan assault on overall victory at Le Mans begins in June. Mardenborough's affairs are largely handled by the Japanese manufacturer – he also raced with Red Bull's support in Formula One feeder series GP3 last season – but there is ample room and ample time for others to sign up for one of world motorsport's most remarkable stories. DC