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Raising Kane: Jonny Kane to debut in SprintX Class for K-PAX Racing
Offers more than 16 years of experience in sports car racing to lineup
Jonny Kane admitted that it has been awhile since he last retraced his roots back to Comber, Northern Ireland – about two years or so since settling in England. Though his parents visit him at his newly-renovated cottage as often as they can, there is still one irreplaceable feeling of home on Boucher Road in Belfast that he wishes to reimagine. Kane’s grandfather opened a car dealership and parts distributor named “Kane of Comber” in August 1970 near his hometown, which nurtured the inherited love of motorsports through three generations.
Kane, 43, still remembers the days he spent at Kane of Comber, which mainly sold vintage MG, Nissan and Alfa Romeo cars among others. The lot was in the village square, owning an entire side. The building still stands since the business closed some-15 years ago – now replaced by grocery stores and other shops. But, the memories are still vivid. Kane especially cherished school holidays, as he spent his breaks serving the store’s customers in his early-teens.
“Yeah, that’s right,” Kane said. “We had petro pumps right outside in front of the showroom, and I’d spend my days serving people their fuel and stuff. It was something to do, gave me a bit of money and I enjoyed it. Cars were always in my blood, forced only a little bit because of the business, but I didn’t really feel like it was forced on me because it was something I enjoyed.”
Kane, who was confirmed as a McLaren GT Factory Driver for the 2017 season, will compete in the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX GT Championship Series in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 racecar. The class, first introduced in 2016, features 10 races at five tracks. The series will headline the Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) from April 28-30.
Kane began racing karts in Northern Ireland when he was 14 years-old – a late-bloomer from when kids usually first start racing. In the summer of 1987, Kane and his father purchased a dated Chariot go-kart and a fire suit for £350 (about $450). He upgraded to a newer kart for the 1988 race season and competed for another two years before stepping up to race Formula Ford in the following years. This step was essentially into the world of racing for Kane, as he tested Ford 1600s throughout Europe. In 1994 and 1995, he raced in Formula Vauxhall and Formula Opel where he was the 1994 British winter champion and the 1995 overall British champion.
From 1999-2000, Kane competed in Indy Lights which is a developmental series for the current Verizon IndyCar Series. The opportunity was Kane’s first stint in the United States of the many to follow; he entered the sports car ranks the following year as a driver for MG Sport and Racing Ltd. In a 19-year span Kane has competed in the U.S. sporadically, mainly entering the 12 Hours at Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway with multiple teams. Remarkably, Kane rebounded from a 28th place finish in 2002 (his debut) with a 6th place performance one year later at “America’s oldest road racing track.”
Kane has spent seven seasons with Strakka Racing, which became a McLaren customer team in 2017. In his first season with the team, Kane piloted a LMP2 HPD ARX-01 to an American Le Mans Series title with Nick Leventis and Danny Watts – whom he shared the ride with since 2010. On the SprintX tour, Kane only has experience at the Circuit of Americas (Tex.) – not including his testing session with K-PAX Racing at VIR in late-March.
“I tested at a lot of places throughout America,” Kane said. “I got to go to a lot of different tracks. [This season] there’s a few new ones to learn, but I like going to new venues because you have to think a little more about it…figuring out the best way around it which I enjoy.”
Notably, Kane tested for the McLaren Formula 1 team in 1995, winning the B.R.D.C. McLaren Autosport Young Drivers Award. Though Kane will be competing in a McLaren GT sports car more than 20 years later, he gets a confidence boost having worked with the manufacturer before. He said that he has always felt a strong connection with McLaren, and to be able to drive for them now is “quite a special feeling.”
To learn more about the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX opener at VIRginia International Raceway, visit world-challenge.com.
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 97 podiums, 38 wins and four driver championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In 2014, K-PAX Racing expanded its relationship with McLaren GT, bringing two new 2015 McLaren 650S GT3 race cars into competition. The renewed effort kept K-PAX Racing at the forefront of competition, becoming a serious championship contender in the seasons to follow. In 2016, the team expanded to three full season McLaren 650S GT3 race cars, and clinched the Pirelli World Challenge Team, Driver, and Manufacturer Championships.
About McLaren GT
McLaren has been a pioneer and setting benchmarks on the tracks around the world for 50 years, and the latest range of GT racing models based on the road-going McLaren Automotive range is no different. McLaren GT was established in 2011 to develop, build and support all GT race activities. Based in Woking, Surrey at the former home of McLaren Racing, the company is responsible for the design, development and production of the 650S GT3, 570S GT4, and 650S and 570S Sprint models.
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