It may be unfamiliar territory after almost a decade racing prototypes, but Jonny Kane says he is relishing the challenge of adapting to GT racing on two continents with the McLaren 650S GT3.
The newly-signed McLaren GT factory driver is running a dual program between the Blancpain GT Series with Strakka Racing and the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX rounds with K-PAX Racing.
While he admits it hasn’t been easy to get used to the McLaren after only racing prototypes for the past few seasons, the Northern Irishman has certainly been enjoying the challenge.
“Some weekends are better than others at the minute,” he told Sportscar365. “I’m still really trying to get used to the car.
“With the problems we had [in the Blancpain GT opener] at Misano, getting taken out in the first race on the first lap, Monza was actually the first race I had actually done.
“I’m still learning a bit, and trying to figure out exactly what the car needs and what I need to do to get the best out of it.
“I think everyone’s starting to get to grips with it a bit and enjoy it a bit more.”
The 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner hasn’t raced a GT car since 2007, when he was behind the wheel of the Spyker C8 Spyder GT2-R, a very different car to the Gibson 015S Nissan LMP2 chassis he raced in the FIA World Endurance championship last season.
“A car is a car,” he said. “A GT car moves around a bit more than a prototype, but I like driving and I like the challenge.
“It’s nice to have the guys who have driven the car a lot, look at their data and ask them questions.”
Having raced in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup round at Silverstone last weekend, Kane is back in PWC competition this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
He says the Virginia International Raceway round, which was his first taste of SprintX, was a good introduction to the series.
“Virginia was hot and really humid, and they had a lot of rain the week before, so on the first day when we turned up the track was actually flooded, which when you go to a race in the States you don’t expect really!” he said.
“The Mercedes seemed to have good BoP for that track in particular. There were a couple of them and they were a little bit up the road from everybody else.
“Alvaro [Parente] and Ben [Barnicoat] had a good race in Race 2, to come back and finish second. It was an enjoyable weekend.”
Another difference for Kane this season is moving from a one-car operation to a multiple-car effort, which in Blancpain GT has effectively quadrupled the team’s track time for testing different setups.
“One good thing is that you can try different things on different cars, and speed up your development process,” he explained.
“I suppose you’ve got a lot more track time if you take all four cars as a separate thing. We’re all working together at the minute, and we’re all taking something onboard from what the other cars have done.
“Hopefully we’ll all move forward together, whereas in WEC if you start off a little bit off the pace and you’ve only got the one car, it can be a little bit difficult to catch up again.
“You’ve got three drivers, you’re trying to get everyone through the car, you don’t have an awful lot of track time and you’ve only got that one set of data to go by. From that point of view, it’s good.”
After being the GT paddocks for a few races now, Kane is starting to get used to the series, and has a lot of praise for the quality of racing in such a large field, on both sides of the Atlantic.
“I know a lot more of the people in WEC, and there are a lot of new faces here,” he admitted. “But it’s a fantastic championship, and it’s very tough.
“There are a lot of good teams, a lot of good drivers and [Blancpain GT] is probably the toughest GT championship there is in the world at the minute.
“From a driver’s point of view, it’s a really good challenge, and the series seem to be really well-organized. I’m enjoying it so far.”