Posted Sep 26th 2012 5:30PM
Ten years after unveiling the concept car that ultimately became the Bentley Continental GT, the iconic British company is back at the Paris Motor Show, with another high-performance "concept" car. The newest member of the Bentley family, this Continental GT3 is a concept in name only, as the company is explicit about the fact that its debut marks a return to motorsports for the brand.
The last time we saw the flying B on a racecar, it was when Bentley was claiming honours at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003. The GT3 seeks to take up that mantle, as well as the storied history of road-going Bentleys being transformed into competent racing machines.
Though technical details are nonexistent in the Bentley press release, the company has given us something to work with, in terms of the racecar that will ultimately result from this program. The GT3 will, naturally, build on the very strong performance of the Continental GT Speed, adding a rear-drive chassis, a massive aero package (the wing seen here in no joke) and "state-of-the-art motorsport hardware."
Bentley's return to the track isn't so far off, either. The company claims that the FIA supported racer will be in the pits by the end of 2013; capable of competing in multiple series and events, including endurance racing. If the final product doesn't end up at Le Mans, we'll eat our hat.
Pictures of this Bentley beast not enough for you? Well, follow this link for a Continental GT3 video, you speed freak.
Related GalleryBentley Continental GT3 Concept
Bentley unveils new Continental GT3 concept racer
Based on Bentley's fastest ever road car - the new GT Speed
FIA-approved concept with 2013 test programme in development
(Paris, 26 September 2012). At the 2002 Paris Motor Show, the unveiling of the Continental GT concept took the world by storm and opened an exciting new chapter in Bentley's history. Now, ten years on, Bentley is repeating the same feat with a Continental-based GT3 race car currently being developed by a dedicated motorsport team at the company's factory in Crewe.
Signalling Bentley's return to the racetrack for the first time since its historic sixth Le Mans victory in 2003, Continental GT3 remains faithful to the company's founding motorsport philosophy of developing racing cars from their road-going counterparts.
Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, Bentley's Chairman and Chief Executive, comments: "The clear message from our customers is that Bentley belongs on the racetrack, and the Continental GT3 is the realisation of a dream we've had ever since the launch of the Continental GT. The new GT Speed is the perfect car for us to develop into a racer, and our work so far has shown huge potential. The Continental GT3 is set to show the world what the Continental GT is capable of in its most extreme form, and establishes a solid foundation for Bentley's long-term motorsport plans."
The new Continental GT Speed is a refined, luxury grand tourer but which, if the driver demands, has a distinctly hard-edged sporting character. With exceptional levels of instantly accessible performance, the GT Speed, the fastest road-going Bentley ever, is a supercar that can be used every day, whatever the weather and road conditions. The Continental GT3 concept capitalises on the prodigious performance, outstanding high-speed stability and renowned durability of Bentley's iconic coupe, while tailoring its specification for the track with the adoption of a rear-wheel drive chassis in accordance with the regulations, state-of-the-art motorsport hardware and a comprehensive aerodynamic package. The dramatic livery of the car enhances the muscular, sculpted form of the Continental GT Speed while remaining proudly patriotic with the inclusion of Union flags.
With the Continental GT3 concept receiving the full support of the FIA, Bentley is returning to the motorsport arena towards the end of 2013 with a GT race car capable of competing with the very best, in the true Bentley tradition.
Equipped for endurance as well as outright speed, the new Bentley competitor will be eligible to race in a range of race series and events, up to and including 24-hour marathons.
Heading the development of the Continental GT3 is Bentley's Director of Chassis, Powertrain and Motorsport, Brian Gush. Having led the programme that famously saw a brace of Bentley Speed 8 prototype racers take a dominant and dramatic one/two at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003, Brian is well placed to lead Bentley's return to competitive racing.
Development of the Continental GT3 will continue over the coming months in the build-up to the start of a test programme in 2013. More information and details about Bentley's return to motorsport will be released in the near future.