It has been ten years since Bentley last dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans but a return to racing for the prestige British marque is on the horizon.
A potent new Continental GT3 race car will make its competitive debut at the 2013 Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi on December 13 of this year, with the endurance race providing a good test bed for the hardcore Conti.
The standard road going version of the Continental GT weighs over two-tonnes but in order to compete with its super-lightweight racing competition, the GT3 car has been on a serious diet.
Weight is now down to under 1300kg thanks to the removal of many of its luxuries and extensive use of carbon fibre, including the bonnet.
Bentley's new 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine powers the sleek machine – a unit that can be found in the road going iteration, but for race purposes the motor has been derestricted to produce in excess of 600bhp.
Bentley's Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, comments: "The car has performed extremely well so far, and has matched or exceeded our simulations in every respect. With 3000 km of testing completed already, the team is very pleased with progress and we're gaining confidence in our package. We're all looking forward to the Gulf 12 Hours in December and can't wait to run the car against the competition for the first time in its first test race."
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