After leaving the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit in 2003 as victors, Bentley has not seen track action since that momentous day.
However, the manufacturer is primed and ready to make a sensational return, with the first test race at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on the horizon. The Bentley Continental GT3 will take part in the Gulf 12 Hours event on December 13th, with a three man team of British drivers hoping to steer the iconic brand to victory.
Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick are the ones behind the wheel and have already completed development work and endurance tests on a variety of European tracks. After the preparations, the drivers are confident they can provide stiff competition when they line up on the grid in the United Arab Emirates.
One thing the newly formed Bentley team will have in its favour is the inclusion of Mr Smith, who has been with Bentley since 2001. In fact, he was part of the Le Mans team that was so successful in the 2003 event, driving the Bentley Speed 8. His efforts helped Bentley achieve their first podium top-step triumph for 70 years.
His experience will be invaluable to help fellow teammates Kane and Meyrick to achieve the same feat come December.
Director of motorsport for Bentley Brian Gush lauded the trio, saying: “I’m delighted with our driver selection, and in Guy, Steven and Andy we have world-class talent. All at Team M-Sport Bentley are thrilled to be racing next month.”
As for the car, it has stripped away the luxury elements that are associated with Bentley to provide even more power, speed and expert handling that will help it to deliver an exceptional performance when the race begins.
Under the bonnet can be found a mammoth 4.0 litre V8 engine, which helps to deliver 600 bhp and conveys a desire to win.
The car has reduced it’s weight by around 1000kg to improve handling and increase downforce, while luxuries like double glazing, veneer and leather trim have all been left behind in the pursuit of speed.
Furthermore, the GT3 comes with a six-speed sequential racing gearbox, double wishbone suspension and four-way adjustable dampers, as well as competition brakes.
While keeping mostly the same silhouette as its road-specified sibling, the car features a carbon-fibre body and a double strength FIA-specification roll cage for improved safety.
In the latest images, the GT3 looks like everything you could want from a racing model, while keeping the iconic grille and logo that makes the car undeniably Bentley.
Mostly white, with a black bumper, air vents and green trim, the vehicle looks the part. The question is, will it bring a performance intensity to match its looks?
Additionally, if the Bentley is successful in Abu Dhabi, will the manufacturer enter the performance vehicle, or other variants, into future races?
The firm will certainly be welcomed back to the track by racing enthusiasts, but opponents are surely quivering in their boots at the prospect of its return.