Tony Kanaan's itinerary to get to the Le Mans 24 Hours could give Fernando Alonso's Indianapolis 500 globe-trotting charge a run for its money after being made a late call-up as replacement for the injured Sebastien Bourdais in the #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

After Bourdais suffered multiple leg fractures in a qualifying crash for the Indy 500 last month, Kanaan was drafted in as a last-minute substitute to make his debut at Le Mans this weekend in the car which won the GTE Pro class 12 months ago.

The former IndyCar champion and Daytona 24 Hour race winner says he was offered the chance to fill in for Bourdais during the morning of the pole position shootout at the Indy 500 and since accepting has had a non-stop charge to be ready for Le Mans.

"On the qualifying weekend for the Indy 500 on Sunday morning I get a call to go to Chip's [Ganassi, team boss] office, Sunday is pole day so the big day for qualifying, and right before that he asks how is my weekend after Texas, was I free?" Kanaan said. "I wasn't even thinking about Le Mans because when Sebastien had his accident I was more worried about him and thinking about the biggest race of the year for us.

"Since that day I had to go to the shop in Indy, after qualifying all day, to do the seat fitting for the Ford as it was leaving the next day to come here. At 8pm that night until midnight I was at the shop and then I had to be back at the track at 8am to do our final sessions."

The news of his Le Mans debut has clearly spurred on the Brazilian by taking his best result of the year with second place in the IndyCar Texas oval race just one week before his maiden Circuit de la Sarthe outing.

"At Texas and they told me I had to leave at 7AM on Sunday because I had missed the ACO simulator so I had to do it that morning. We finished at around 11PM Saturday night and you can imagine the adrenaline after the race. I couldn't sleep. I went to bed at 5AM, woke up at 6AM as I left at 7AM.

"I slept on the plane and landed in Paris at 7.30PM then drove two hours to the simulator, jumped in that for six hours, then drove two hours to come here. The race is the easiest part as I'm looking forward to it!"

Despite being a Le Mans rookie the 42-year-old is far from a 24-hour unknown with wins at Sebring and Daytona which he feels will help his find his rhythm at the iconic endurance race in France.

"This is what I train for and I always train more than I need to, to be able to fight new challenges," he said. "I've had a few experiences of the challenge of a 24 hour race and the biggest thing is I could never relax out of the car.

"I would watch my team-mates or whatever, but I have learnt once you are out of the car you need to go to sleep, your job is done, let your team do their part and come back when it is your turn. That is something that has helped me a lot, like at Daytona, and like going to sleep later as we wake up later.

"It is a different mindset, more relaxing here, so it is good I have some 24 hour races under my belt even though this is a new event for me. The concept of the race is still the same."

 

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