Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Silverstone and marathon to test Kane's endurance

Jonny Kane

Marathon efforts are nothing new to Jonny Kane.

He is one of the most accomplished long-distance racing drivers in the world, a veteran of classic endurance events like the Le Mans and Daytona 24-hour races.

But he is no slouch on his feet either and is currently mixing the build-up to the opening round of the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone on Sunday with preparations for the London Marathon a week later.

The Oxfordshire-based Ulsterman will be pounding the streets of the capital alongside other members of the British Racing Drivers' Club to raise cash for Cancer Research.

And make no mistake, Kane is capable of a fair turn of speed even without a car beneath him.

He has completed the London Marathon twice before and has an impressive best time of two hours 59 minutes.

"I would probably prefer to be in a car for three hours," he confesses. "It's very hard running a marathon and is a real achievement to finish one.

"It's ok for the first 18 miles but then you still have an hour or more to go. It feels like a long way – and it is!

"But I really enjoy running with the other drivers although it gets very competitive; racing drivers can't really do anything without there being a battle involved and I'm sure this year won't be any different. But the important thing is we have raised over £150,000 in the past couple of years."

Comber-born Kane is a former British F3 champion, UK Young Driver of the Year, a race winner in America and a driver who came up just short of Formula One – he was part of the Arrows test team – but has driven for some of the top manufacturers in sportscar racing including MG, Audi and Bentley.

Now 39 and a key member of the independent Strakka WEC team, his attention is focussed on preparations for the opening round of the Endurance series at Silverstone.

Kane and his Strakka co-drivers Danny Watts and Nick Leventis, who spent last week in the south of France testing at the Paul Ricard track, already have a Le Mans LMP2 class win behind them – their fifth place in 2011 was the highest ever by an LMP2 car – as well as being the only LMP2 crew to win a World championship endurance race outright.

Now they have stepped up to the top level, competing in LMP1, the premier division, with their 200mph-plus, Honda-powered HPD-ARX prototype. They face the might of the Audi and Toyota factory teams although their primary goal is to win the Privateers' championship.

They were second at their first attempt last year but now aim to build on the experience gained.

"We enjoyed a lot of success last year including our overall podium finish in Bahrain," said team boss Dan Walmsley. "We were disappointed not to win the Privateers' title but we were competitive everywhere we raced and we are confident we can built on the experience we gained in our first season at this level."

This year they also get to start the series on home ground.

Kane said: "It's really nice to kick off the season at our home race although we don't actually get to race at Silverstone as often as you might think. I've probably raced at Spa and a lot of other tracks more often than Silverstone but I always love driving the circuit and it's great to have the home crowd behind you."

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