Belfast Telegraph

Ricard revenge for Kane and Bentley boys

 

French success: Steven Kane
French success: Steven Kane

By Sammy Hamill

There was sweet revenge for Steven Kane and his Bentley team in the 1,000kms of Paul Ricard, the fourth round of the Blancpain European GT Endurance Championship.

A year after being denied victory on the final lap of the six hour race, Kane and team-mates Jordan Pepper and Jules Gounon brought their GT3 Bentley Continental home to an emphatic win on Saturday night.

It was Frenchman Gounon at the wheel as the Bentley crossed the finish line more than half a minute ahead of the field but, as in any distance race, it was far from straightforward.

They had qualified on pole position and South African Pepper led through most of the first two hours before handing over to Ulsterman Kane who used all his experience to take advantage of a safety car period to make his pit stop and resume in the lead.

Kane handed over to Gounon for the final two hours but then it started to unravel for the M-Sport team who build and run the Bentleys. A delay in the pits saw him drop to second, eight seconds behind the SMP Racing Ferrari of Miguel Molina.

But as he closed in on the leader, the Ferrari was hit with a stop-go penalty for a pit stop infringement and Gounon was left with a clear run to the flag, bringing Bentley their third Paul Ricard win in three years and erasing the memory of 2018 when the young French driver was overtaken on the last lap.

However, it proved a disappointing race for Kane's fellow Ulstermen Andrew Watson and Charlie Eastwood.

Watson and his Garage 59 Aston Martin team of Jonny Adam and Come Ledogar had been running in the top three only for an oil leak to force the Tyrone driver back to the pits and the subsequent retirement of the car which had been hastily rebuilt after a huge first lap crash in the previous round at Silverstone.

Eastwood had helped his Oman Racing team to pole position in the pro/am category with the sixth fastest time overall in their TF Sport Aston Martin he shares with Salih Yuloc and Ahmad Al Harthy. But the race itself did not go smoothly and they finished three laps down.

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