Jonny Kane will again be handed the anchor role for the Strakka team when the Le Mans 24-hour race begins tomorrow afternoon.
Now 39, Kane will be making his ninth appearance in the great sportscar classic but his first in the top division, the LMP1 class as the private, British-owned Strakka team take on the might of manufacturers Audi and Toyota.
He and team-mates Nick Leventis and Danny Watts created history two years ago when they finished fifth, the highest place ever achieved by a crew of an LMP2 car.
Now they have moved up to the major class with their Honda-developed HPD ARX-03 and have set their sights on another top five finish as well as taking the privateer and petrol engine category honours in a race which is now dominated by diesel power.
“The idea of winning outright is probably unrealistic against the factory teams of Audi and Toyota but it is Le Mans and you never know what will happen in a race as long and as difficult as this,” said Comber-born Kane.
A former British F3 champion and Arrows F1 test driver, Kane is hugely experienced in sportscars having driven for, among others, MG, Aston Martin, Bentley and Lola.
This weekend that experience will be utilised by the Strakka team as he takes on two of the most demanding roles at Le Mans.
He will be at the wheel for the rolling start where almost 60 cars rumble out of the Ford chicane and accelerate past the massive grandstands, all jockeying for position. Many Le Mans dreams have ended on the first lap.
Later, through the night, super-fit Kane — he has run the London Marathon twice in under three hours — will take on the lion’s share of the driving, doing double and triple shifts in the dark for up to three hours at a time.
It is a role he enjoys and says the toughest part for him is the final few hours on Sunday afternoon.
“By then everyone is really tired and you just want to get to the end,” he said.
“The real fear is, after all the hard work and with the chequered flag nearly in sight, something will go wrong. That’s heart-breaking.
“Hopefully it won’t happen to us.”