Sports car specialist and Northern Irishman Steven Kane takes the chequered flag at Paul Ricard for his second win in a row in the Blancpain Endurance Series. An exceptionally hard-fought stint behind the wheel combined with superb work from his teammates Andy Meyrick and Guy Smith to produce the victory, which sees the drivers of the #7 Bentley Continental GT3 leading the Endurance Series drivers’ championship with two races left in the season.
Steven’s Continental GT3 started 7th on the grid for the three hour race in the dusk light in the south of France in the hands of fellow Bentley Boy Guy Smith. Guy drove a fantastic opening stint to bring the car up to 2nd place, before handing to Andy Meyrick who was able to go one better and take the lead at the mid-point of the race. Andy gave the car to Steven with an hour to go, but a slight delay in the pit stop meant that Steven rejoined the race only just ahead of the #98 McLaren of Nicolas Lapierre. Steven had to push both himself and the Bentley to the limit to stay ahead, with the gap opening up to six seconds but then shrinking back to less than a second as the cars weaved through backmarkers. Ultimately, Steven had the talent and racecraft to match the slightly stronger grip of the Bentley, which had been kinder to its tyres over the race, to bring the car home in first place, separated from the McLaren by just 1.1 seconds.
Speaking immediately after the race, Steven comments:
“This win feels just fantastic, in many ways even sweeter than Silverstone. We really had to work for this, starting further down the grid and less sure of our outright pace here. But the Continental GT3 came through for us again, really using its tyres well and giving us the chance to push harder over the stints. I had a real fight on my hands in my stint, and Lapierre was doing a great job of keeping the pressure on. The team fed me all the information I needed and I was able to focus through the fading light on getting through the traffic and maintaining a small gap without destroying the tyres.”
“The work by the whole team this weekend has been mega. We struggled a little in the early practice sessions to get the setup refined, but our engineers worked with us to iron out the niggles and we went racing with an excellent race car, again. The Continental GT3 is just a joy to drive, and what we’re learning is that it really likes to be pushed hard. Hopefully this will bode well for us at the next race at Spa, which is the one that everyone wants to win.”
Steven now returns home for a brief period, in which he is due to become a father for the second time. He will then attend the test day at Spa on Wednesday 2nd July, before training hard for the Total 24 Hours of Spa which begins on Saturday 26th July. With triple points on offer, the headline race of the Series is one that Steven will be working even harder than usual for, to hopefully maintain his winning streak.