Ulstermen Kane and Watson may join forces for Euro GT3 quest
Jonny Kane's Strakka Racing team have quit the World Endurance Championship and instead will contest the 2017 Blancpain European GT3 series in a new partnership with McLaren.
And that means the vastly experienced Kane could be teaming up next season with fellow Ulsterman Andrew Watson, one of McLaren's rising stars.
Kane, originally from Comber, has been a mainstay of the Strakka team for the past seven years and in announcing the GT3 switch, owner Nick Leventis singled him out as a vital part of the new programme. He said they would be running four cars in the European series next year and would be carrying out private assessment tests for potential drivers in the coming weeks, placing the emphasis on young talent.
But he added: "We also want experienced drivers, not only for performance but also as a benchmark for the Academy drivers to work towards. Jonny is driving better than ever and one of the fastest guys in sports car racing."
Watson, from Donaghmore, has been a member of the McLaren Young Driver Academy for the past two years, competing in British GT and latterly in the European GT3 series for satellite team Garage 59. McLaren's high regard for him has been demonstrated by his selection for high-profile races like the Bathurst 1000 in Australia and the 24-hour Spa race in Belgium.
Strakka are former LMP2 champions in the World Endurance Championship, the only LMP2 team to win a round of the series outright (Hungaroring in 2010). They had initially planned to step up to the top class, LMP1, in 2017 but Leventis has changed tack.
Meanwhile, another of Ulster's young sports car stars, Paddy McClughan, ended his season on a high by winning the final round of the Radical European Masters Championship at Jerez in Spain.
The 20-year-old from Jordanstown came in to partner Channel Islander John Harrison for the three-race finale and played his part by bringing the Radical home first in the third race.