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Paris show: Bentley unveils GT3 racer

Bentley to return to the racetrack with a Continental GT racer from 2013


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27 Sep 2012

BENTLEY has signalled its intention to return to the racetrack in 2013 for the first time in more than a decade, premiering a concept Continental GT3 racer at the Paris motor show overnight.

The GT3 racer concept is based on the road-going Continental GT Speed unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June this year, which was billed as Bentley’s fastest-ever production car.

The racing version will likely use a development of the same 480kW/800Nm turbocharged W12 engine as the GT Speed, but unlike that car will feature a rear-drive layout in accordance with regulations (the GT Speed road car is AWD).

The Paris show car also features “state-of-the-art motorsport hardware” and a comprehensive aerodynamics package including a huge rear wing and a tarmac-scraping front diffuser, plus a patriotic Union Jack symbol behind the front wheel arch.

The concept on display in Paris has received the full support of the FIA, and Bentley has a dedicated factory team, led by its director of chassis, powertrain and motorsport Brian Gush, hard at work developing the final version at its UK headquarters.

Mr Gush was the man who led Bentley’s previous tilt at competitive racing, in 2003, where it claimed a one-two finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a pair of radical Speed 8 racers. Fellow Volkswagen Group brand Audi has dominated the famous endurance race in its absence.

Bentley hopes the eventual track-ready GT3 will be ready to commence testing early next year and to hit the track against other GT3 category racers by the end of 2013.

European GT racing is broken down into four categories, with cars classified according to how close they are to production specification. GT3 is popular with manufacturers including Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Audi and Aston Martin because it allows them to compete with cars closely related to their road-going counterparts.

Said to have been designed for endurance as well as outright speed, the Bentley competitor will also be eligible to race in a range of series up to and including 24-hour marathons – a tacit hint at a return to Le Mans, even thought GT cars do not currently compete in the event.

Bentley chairman and chief executive Wolfgang Schreiber said the Contintal GT3 racer is “the realisation of a dream we’ve had ever since the launch of the Continental GT.”“The clear message from our customers is that Bentley belongs on the racetrack,” he said.

“The new GT Speed is the perfect car for us to develop into a racer, and our work so far has shown huge potential.

“The Continental GT3 is set to show the world what the Continental GT is capable of in its most extreme form, and establishes a solid foundation for Bentley’s long-term motorsport plans.”

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