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Top Ulster trio go for glory in 24-hour classic


By Sammy Hamill

A trio of top Ulster drivers face the biggest challenge of the European GT season this weekend, the Spa 24 Hours race around the daunting Belgian Grand Prix circuit.

Steven Kane, Andrew Watson and Charlie Eastwood are all in the line-up for the endurance classic, which is round four of the Blancpain European GT3 Championship.

The experienced Kane, originally from Ballynahinch, heads up the Bentley challenge, sharing the latest M-Sport developed Generation 2 Continental with Frenchman Jules Gounon and young South African Jordan Pepper.

Donaghmore driver Watson, who is now being managed by former F1 racer Mark Blundell, remains part of the McLaren Academy programme but switches to the AM Cup class to bolster the Garage 59 trio of Swede Alexander West and Brits Chris Goodwin and Chris Harris, who won the category in France earlier this month in their McLaren 650S.

Belfast man Eastwood, the 2017 GB Porsche Carrera Cup champion, continues with the Oman Racing team, driving an Aston Martin Vantage in company with Ahmad al-Harthy, Euan McKay and Ross Gunn.

The action begins today with free practice, followed by two qualifying sessions, one during darkness. The race starts at 3.30pm on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Manx government has given the go-ahead for the Rally Isle of Man to take place in September.

The rally, which is round five of the British Championship, had been under threat after the Manx Department of Infrastructure refused to grant road closing orders, citing safety concerns.

But, following talks between rally organisers and department officials this week, it was agreed the event could take place on September 13 to 15 subject to a "series of conditions" being met.

They have not spelt out what the conditions are, but the organisers have been given permission to publish regulations for the rally this weekend.

The next round of the British series is the Antrim-based John Mulholland Ulster International on August 17 and 18.

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