14 reasons why it's not just about F1 in 2014
The F1 season has kicked off, but there's lots more motorsport happening this year to get excited about...
Posted: 16 Mar 2014
12. Bentley Continental V8 GT3
Yes we're being slightly childish, but who doesn't think that the Bentley GT3 car looks properly awesome? Scheduled to run in the wonderfully eclectic FIA Blancpain Series this year, the tyre-shredding Continental will be mixing it with the more usual Ferrari/Porsche/Lamborghini staples, and early race-pace tests in a feeder event in Dubai looked encouraging. The team itself, M-Sport Bentley, is being handled by Bentley's director of motorsport, Brian Gush - the bloke in charge when the Bentley Speed 8 won at Le Mans in 2003 - and is an offshoot of Malcolm Wilson's M-Sport firm: famous for its stirling work in the WRC. Suffice to say the right people are in place.
The car itself looks on good form, too. The Continental has a structure that isn't all that heavy, but kitting it out with all the required equipment that makes it a luxurious GT and therefore makes it, well, that makes it a Bentley, adds weight. Quite a lot of weight. So out goes anything burnished or veneered, or knurled. Out goes all the soundproofing, double-glazing, leather, electric operation and anything to make life on the inside nicer (satnav, stereo, aircon). Out goes the useful but heavy four-wheel-drive system and auto 'box, and in comes a six-speed sequential XTrac race 'box and rear-wheel drive, lightened double-wishbone suspension, four-way adjustable damping and competition brakes.
In fact, over a tonne has been lost from a standard Conti in comparison. Which means that it's lost a Ford Fiesta in weight. But the best bit is that apart from the obvious wings and arches, the GT3 still looks like a Conti. The doors, boot and bonnet are all now pure carbon fibre, and while the wing is unavailable on the road-car options list, the bodyshell itself is more or less a direct carryover. We're just looking forward to it rolling over a few 458s.