Bentley came within spitting distance of the podium at the 2016 24 hours of Spa last weekend but came up just short. It was a disappointing finish to a valiant effort by all four of the Continental GT3 teams entered in the event.
Bentley Team M-Sport had its two works teams there. Customer team Parker Racing also had two entries: one in Am and one in Pro-Am.
The weather cooperated but fate did not. Both Parker Racing cars would succumb to collisions that made it impossible for them to continue. Neither made it through the night.
The Works teams were very quick. For another time this season, the #7 car suffered bad luck when a fuel pump failed prior to the race. This forced the team to start from pit lane. They would battle back and eventually find themselves in the lead before a power steering pump failure cost them significance time.
The number #8 Bentley Continental GT3, which has been having a great year, put in a good performance if you were only looking at lap times. From a race management standpoint, the team was penalized right out of a win. The #7 served four penalties that cost a total of 220 seconds.
All four penalties were explainable, but preventable. The nail in the coffin came at the end of the race when the team caught some very bad luck. It had once again began to rain at Spa and the #7 came in to change tires. More confusion in the Bentley pits seemed to cost the team time and then the rain intensified. A full course yellow from cars skidding into each other allowed the competition to come in and change tires without losing the time the Bentley did. The #7 narrowly missed the podium and finished fourth.
Speaking to Sportcar365, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport Brian Gush said, “Every penalty could have been avoided.” All combined, the #7 car lost three laps which would have given it plenty of cushion for a first place finish if things would’ve went better.
For Bentley, it definitely felt like a missed opportunity. The team will be back next year hoping that lady luck will be joining them.