How Much of Gran Turismo’s Story Is True?

How Much of Gran Turismo’s Story Is True?

This week Sony’s hit video game Gran Turismo was released in cinemas as a movie. Except, it’s not really a video game adaptation at all. Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story is in fact just that, a biopic based on the life of race driver Jann Mardenborough.

Like any Hollywood film, Gran Turismo takes some creative liberties and, if you’ve seen the film, you might be wondering how much of Mardenborough’s incredible journey is true. Let’s sort some of the facts from fiction in the Gran Turismo movie.

Gran Turismo Movie: How Much Is True?

gran turismo true story
Image: Sony Pictures

From Gamer to Racer

As the movie’s tagline proudly displays, Jann Mardenborough did in fact get his start from driving in Gran Turismo. Up until he was 19 the closest Mardenborough had been to racing a car was in the virtual tracks of Gran Turismo.

As seen in the movie, Mardenborough is also the son of a famous English football player, that being Steve Mardenborough.

GT Academy

The movie makes it seem like Mardenborough was the first successful sim driver out of GT Academy, but this isn’t entirely true. The competition was first funded by Nissan and Sony in 2008. Orlando Bloom’s Danny Moore is translation of the real Nissan executive, Darren Moore, who originated the concept.

The first winner in 2008 was Spanish driver Lucas Ordonez, who secured a podium finish in his first event in the 2009 GT4 Euro Cup season and also landed a 2nd place finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Meanwhile, Mardenborough won GT Academy Europe in 2011, its third iteration, where he beat 90,000 other entrants. The competition continued until 2016, expanding to 17 different countries.

Jack Salter

gran turismo true story
Image: Sony Pictures

David Harbour’s character in the movie, Jack Salter, is an ex-professional racing driver who ends up coaching the GT Academy and becoming Jann’s mentor.

This role seems to not be based on any one specific person and has been created for the purposes of the movie. However, Mardenborough did post once about a mentor in his life, Gavin Gough, who may have served as one of the inspirations for Salter.

F3 career

While Gran Turismo is generally accurate in depicting the Mardenborough’s incredible career trajectory, the order in which it all happens is glossed over.

In the movie, Mardenborough goes from racing in GT3 through to the final act being his greatest challenge at Le Mans. However, it completely omits the time he spent racing in Formula 3, an even higher stakes class of racing.

Nordschleife Crash

gran turismo true story
Image: Sony Pictures

One of the key events in Gran Turismo is Mardenborough’s freak accident at Nürburgring Nordschleife. In truth, Mardenborough’s car did become airborne and crash, which tragically killed one spectator.

However, the timing of this event in the movie does not line up with reality. The crash really occurred in 2015, years after Mardenborough had reached the podium at Le Mans. However, in the movie this takes place prior to his race at Le Mans, which has incited a large amount of criticism on the film for repositioning a tragic real life event to serve as character motivation.

On the whole there are a lot of things that Gran Turismo gets right about Jann Mardenborough’s incredible true story, but there are also a lot of instances it chooses to Hollywood-ise things.

If you want to see it for yourself Gran Turismo is in cinemas now.

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