Bentley isn’t a name we equate with racing. Yes, they had great success at Le Mans in the 1920’s with the Bentley Boys. Yes, they won at Le Mans again in 2003. They just haven’t had a sustained presence in racing when compared to marques like Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, or even BMW.
It seems they are aiming to change that. Meet the Continental GT3 racecar. They’ve stripped an astounding 2200 pounds from the car. I will repeat that. 2200 pounds! They’ve removed more than a Lotus Exige weighs. Their aim was to remove more weight than allowed by regulation, and add ballast to improve weight balance. Everyone knows a race car needs to be stripped of all unnecessary weight, but it’s interesting that in their press release, Bentley felt compelled to remind us that the GT3 is still a hand-crafted car.
Testing has just begun on this racer, and we should start seeing it on the track by the end of 2013 with the focus being on development. The initial program will be factory-backed, with future cars being sold to privateer teams.
Bentley may not have a continuous race history, but we are always excited to see a manufacturer jump back in the ring. Let’s see what you got, Bentley.
From the press release:
Bentley debuted the Continental GT3 race car at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed, unveiling a racing machine set to explore the extreme potential of Bentley’s iconic Grand Tourer, the Continental GT. Member of the Board for Engineering, Rolf Frech, comments: “The Continental GT3 exploits the incredible performance beneath the skin of every Continental GT. We’ve removed over 1000 kilograms of weight, reconfigured our 4.0-litre V8 to produce 600 bhp in race specification, and developed a comprehensive aerodynamic package to ensure that we perform competitively. We are now looking forward to getting the car on the track and proving its potential.”
The Bentley Continental GT3 is powered by a race-prepared and dry-sump version of Bentley’s powerful but efficient 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, with many components carried over from the road-going engine. Developing up to 600 bhp in unrestricted race configuration via a motorsport engine management system, the V8 provides the GT3 with highly competitive power in a compact and lightweight package that’s perfect for racing. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a carbon fibre propshaft to an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox with a limited slip differential, mounted as a transaxle for optimised weight distribution. Gear actuations are completed via a pneumatic shift system, controlled by paddles mounted to the steering wheel.
Bentley Continental GT3 Racecar (2014)
2014 Bentley Continental GT3 Racecar
A double wishbone suspension configuration front and rear, fitted with four-way adjustable racing dampers, replaces the standard road-car air springs. The steering system features hydraulic power-assistance, while braking is via ventilated iron discs combined with six-piston calipers on the front and four-piston calipers on the rear.
The exterior of the car features a comprehensive aerodynamic package, to maximise downforce with optimised drag. A top-mounted carbon fibre rear wing provides rear downforce and stability, while a carbon fibre splitter balances the aerodynamic forces at the front of the car. Revisions have been made to the bonnet, bumpers, fenders and sills in order to optimise the car’s drag coefficient and to assist with engine cooling.
With the removal of the leather and wood interior trim, the production electrical systems and advanced refinement materials that make the Continental GT such a capable Grand Tourer, the Bentley Continental GT3 weighs in under its target of 1300 kg. Despite the race-specification, the GT3 remains a hand-crafted Bentley, with the steering wheel, door pulls and seat all hand-trimmed and stitched by Bentley craftspeople at Crewe.
The design has been completed by a specialist team of engineers from Bentley Motors supported by the Continental GT3 Technical Partner, M-Sport Ltd. Managed from a dedicated motorsport facility base at Bentley’s Crewe factory, an additional design office was created at M-Sport for the detail design stages and build of the first car.
The Bentley Continental GT3 now starts its programme of developmental track work, focussing on optimising the car’s performance based on simulations and refining the car’s abilities. Once homologation with the FIA has been completed, the GT3 will enter its first development races before starting full competition in the FIA Blancpain Series in 2014.
Bentley Continental GT3 Specifications
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, repositioned to the rear of the engine bay, Cosworth engine management system
Power: Approx. 600 bhp derestricted
Oil System: Dry sump
Transmission: Rear wheel drive, Xtrac six-speed sequential transaxle gearbox, racing clutch, steering wheel mounted paddle operated pneumatic gear shift
Drivetrain: Carbon fibre propshaft, limited slip differential
Suspension: Double wishbone suspension front and rear, four-way adjustable racing dampers
Steering: Hydraulic power-assisted steering
Brakes: Ventilated iron disc brakes front and rear, Brembo six-piston front calipers, four-piston rear calipers, driver-adjustable brake bias
Safety: FIA-specification steel roll cage, Sparco six-point FIA safety harness, onboard fire extinguisher, onboard pneumatic jack system.
Fuel System: FIA-specification racing fuel cell
Electronics: Race-specification ABS and traction control. Lightweight race battery.
Wheels: OZ Racing 18″ x 13″ rims
Tyres: 310 / 710 R18
Aerodynamics: Carbon fibre front splitter, rear wing and body panels. Lightweight, aerodynamically-optimised bumpers, bonnet, sills and fenders
Length: 4950 mm
Width: 2030 mm
Height: 1350 mm
Weight: <1300 kg Weight Distribution: 52 : 48