Bentley's GT3 racer debuts at the Gulf 12 Hours
Bentley's racing again, and it has kicked things off with the two-part endurance race at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi
So, it's time. After more than a decade of its absence from motorsport, Bentley is ready to go racing again. It set the ball rolling with the unveil of the Continental GT3 race car last year, and having fine-tuned the car to withstand the rigours of endurance racing, has now resumed its return to the world of motor racing at the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi.
And it's going pretty smoothly for the team so far - the Conti GT3, on its competition debut, managed to finish eighth in both Practice sessions at the Yas Marina circuit, from among a total of 23 entrants. The big Ben trailed the fastest car on the circuit by 2.7 seconds in P1, and cut the gap down to just 0.7 seconds in P2.
There's a whole lot of thought that's gone into the car, as well as the team that's running it. It may be a Continental GT in essence, but this track tool isn't anything like a proper Bentley - there's nothing even remotely luxurious about the cabin, so no oak veneer or expensive cowhides. The Conti GT3, co-developed by M-Sport Ltd, is stripped down to its bare essentials, weighing a full tonne less than the road-going CGT, which weighs about 2.3 tonnes. And it's got the 4-litre twin-turbo V8 sending 600bhp to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential gearbox.
Heading the GT3 campaign is Brian Gush, Bentley's Motorsport Director, also the man who oversaw Bentley's last motorsport win at LeMans in 2003. The new, all-British 'Bentley Boys' team consists of Guy Smith (he was the one piloting the victorious Speed 8 at LeMans in '03), Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick, coming in after completing a successful season in the Blancpain Endurance Series - which is the series Bentley is actually aiming for - and racing the DeltaWing, a racecar that we liked rather a lot.
The Gulf 12 Hours race will take place tomorrow. Let's see how Friday the 13th pans out for the new Bentley Boys.