Belfast Telegraph

Kane’s Le Mans hopes hit by practice crash

By Sammy Hamill

Jonny Kane’s hopes of another memorable Le Mans 24-hour race suffered a blow when his Strakka team-mate Nick Leventis crashed during practice.

As official qualifying began for tomorrow’s race, Comber-born Kane set the fastest LMP2 time in his Honda-designed HPD-ARX, lapping the Sarthe circuit in three minutes 42.6 seconds.

But unfortunately team-mate Leventis crashed at 120mph during his stint at the wheel. He was badly shaken but otherwise unhurt.

However, the car suffered considerable damage when it hit the tyre wall at the Dunlop bridge, leaving the team facing a hectic race to rebuild it.

A year ago Kane was part of the Strakka team which made history in the classic sportscar race.

With his co-drivers Danny Watts and Leventis, he finished in fifth place, the highest position ever achieved by a “second division” LMP2 car. They were later to win the Hungaroring 1000 kilometres, the first outright victory by an LMP2 car in the Le Mans Series.

But as the Comber-born former British F3 champion prepares to make his eighth appearance at Le Mans, he admitted: “It is going to be tough to emulate what we did last year.

“We had just about the perfect race. Pole position in the LMP2 class, leading throughout the 24 hours and finishing fifth, the best result ever by an LMP2 car. It doesn’t get much better than that.

“The aim is to try to repeat the performance, and we’re certainly up for the challenge, but this is Le Mans, the most difficult, demanding race in the world and anything can happen.

“But I love racing here. The atmosphere is fantastic, especially during the night.”

The LMP1 Peugeot of Stephane Sarrazin was fastest overall to claim provisional pole ahead of the Audi of Andre Lotterer.

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