Belfast Telegraph

Kane goes right to top of the class at Le Mans

By Sammy Hamill

Jonny Kane showed all his Le Mans experience and skill to set the fastest time in the LMP2 class in first qualifying for this weekend’s great 24-hour classic at the Le Sarthe circuit in France.

Now 37 and a veteran of sportscar racing with teams like Audi and Bentley, the former British F3 champion from Comber made his debut at Le Mans in 2001 with the works MG squad.

Now Kane leads the Silverstone-based Strakka team alongside two other British drivers, former downhill skier Nick Leventis and Danny Watts, one of Team GB’s drivers in the A1GP series.

And it was Kane who was handed the task of making the qualifying runs in the team’s HPD ARX, a prototype developed by Honda Racing Performance and Acura.

He set the 14th fastest time overall and was quickest in the “second division” LMP2 category ahead of a number of LMP1 cars including the Drayson Lola of former winner Emmanuele Pirro and the Ginetta of the Mansell family, ex-F1 World champion Nigel and sons Leo and Greg.

He was also more than a second faster than the next best LMP2 car, the Highcroft PHD of David Brabham. The fastest time overall was set by the Peugeot of Sebastien Bourdais. Indeed the French factory team closed out the top three positions. And with rain forecast for the final session they were expected to retain pole position.

The JMW Motorsport team, owned by Ulsterman Jim McWhirter, struggled in qualifying with their Prodrive-developed Aston Martin Vantage. American Bryce Miller was their quickest driver but was only 48th fastest, 13th in the GT2 category.

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