Steven Kane says Bentley Team M-Sport will be “totally focused” on ending the season on a high at the Sepang 12 Hours after narrowly missing out on the Blancpain Endurance Series title.
The Malaysian race is set to take on even greater significance in 2016 when it joins the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Circuit of the Americas 6 Hours and Total 24 Hours of Spa as part of the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge, but for Northern Irishman Kane, who lost out to the RJN-Nissan crew of Alex Buncombe, Wolfgang Reip and Katsumasa Chiyo by just three points, it will be the final opportunity to score a win in 2015.
“Everyone who has been there says it’s an amazing race-track, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Kane. “The last four or five weeks since the end of the season we’ve had maybe one week off and spent the last four weeks training really hard for the heat and humidity – we’ve been at Carlisle University doing body analysis and heat training, so it’s been intense, but I think we’re ready for it.
“We’re totally focused on trying to get a good result there. It’s the last race of the year and we haven’t had a win this season for car 7; we were leading on the penultimate lap at Bathurst but it didn’t work out and we came away with fourth position, so we’re really determined to put our names on the trophy. It’s going to be more competitive than anyone thought it would be, with Ferrari taking a team there and Audi are taking five cars, but the more competition, the better it is.”
Kane will share the no. 7 Continental GT3 with Guy Smith and new team-mate Vincent Abril, who earned himself a factory contract after winning the Blancpain Sprint Series driving a HTP Motorsport Bentley.
“I didn’t really know [Abril] that well, I spoke to him in the paddock a couple of times and he seemed a really nice kid,” Kane says. “He’s a great addition, he’s obviously won a championship in a Bentley and hopefully he can bring that confidence and an extra bit of spice to our car.
“He came to M-Sport last week and he’s slotted in really well. He’s impressed us with his performance in training, he’s really keen to learn off the likes of Guy and myself and to back up the championship he won last year in the Sprint series. I think it’s a positive move but we’ll know more once we’ve done a couple of races and see how it all pans out, it’s still very early days.”
Looking ahead to a season of change in 2016 as Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche roll out new machinery, Kane believes Bentley will benefit from their two years of experience with the Continental GT3 package, but will need to iron out the little errors which plagued them this year if they are to go one better and take the title.
“It’ll be third time lucky!” he joked. “The last two years in a row we’ve been second, so if we can consistently do what we’ve been doing and come out of Spa with a handful of points, that would be a good platform for a championship assault.
“When you look at our pace and our performances, they’ve all been quite good, but a couple of mistakes have really put the balance of the championship the wrong way. We had a wheelnut problem at Silverstone which was really unfortunate because we could really have won there with the amount of time we lost in the pits and Spa hit us really hit us hard again – last year it was a debris cutting the brake-line and this year with Andy [Meyrick] having the accident which wasn’t his fault – so we just need to make sure we’re in the points positions in the sixth hour, the twelfth hour and be there at the end. I’m really looking forward to next year – we can only go better.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the new cars,” he continued. “It’s just a question of waiting and seeing what the BOP is like and then obviously seeing how their fuel consumption and tyre wear is. All the new cars are from manufacturers who have made GT3s before and know what they’re doing, but we know we’ve still got a very competitive car, so I hope we can hit the ground running.”