Bentley’s racing revival began when it was acquired by new parent who decided breathe life back into company’s founding vision. Bentley was originally built on racing pedigree and so it was decided that Bentley should go racing. Their first choice: endurance racing at Le Mans. Several years of development resulted in a win in 2003. That same year, Bentley announced the Continental GT, the world’s most luxurious sporting touring car.
In 2012, Bentley unveiled the Continental GT3, a racing version of the road car. Like their first racing program, Bentley’s Continental GT3 program has been focused on endurance racing since its inception three years ago. Which bring us up to this weekend’s big event: the ADAC Zurich 24 hrs event at the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Affectionately known as the Green Hell, Nürburgring is one of the toughest race courses in the world. Through 24 hours of abuse, the car and its drivers and technicians have to be ready for anything. The Continental GT3 is no stranger to endurance racing having competed in both last season and this season’s Blancpain Endurance Series. Last season, the team managed a podium and so far this season has fared well.
Bentley is well represented with a pair of Works Bentley Continental GTs, one of which is wearing Bentley’s spec Tulsi Green paint scheme from their Le Mans efforts with the Speed 8 in the early 2000’s. Those two will be joined by a third car entered by Bentley’s European racing partner, Bentley Team HTP.
The Bentley Continental GT3’s will be driven by a talented and experienced roster of drivers. Car #11 for Bentley Team HTP will be driven by Christopher Brück, Marco Seefried and Harold Primat with Clemens Schmid as alternate. The #84 Works car will be driven by Jereon Bleekemolen, Christian Menzel and Lance David Arnold. Menzel and Arnold are previous winner of the 24H Nürburgring. Car #84 will also have Christopher Brück available as a stand-in driver, should he be needed.
The last car, #85 Works car in that amazing British Tulsi Green color, is driven by three Brits: Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane. All three have extensive experience with the Continental GT3. Lance David Arnold is the listed alternate for the #85 car. The color of this car has special significance to Bentley. It was the color used on the Bentleys campaigned at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2001. 2002. and 2003, including the 2003 Le Mans winning Bentley Speed 8. Bentley included graphics on the door, just below the window, listing out all their race wins so far.
“The Nordschleife is the toughest racetrack in the world, and the 24-Hours is full of exceptional competitors. We already know that the Continental GT3 performs well over a full day and night of racing from the Spa 24-hour last year – but this is our hardest test yet. I’m hoping that we can keep both cars out of trouble and finish strongly.” – Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport
As we publish this, the first two qualifying rounds are complete and the top 30 cars will compete in one more session to determine starting positions. So far things are going really well as all three Continental GT3s have made the cut for the Top 30. Car #84 in P4, and car #11 in P14, and car #85 in P29.
UPDATE: The starting positions the race have been set. The three Bentleys will be line up like this: car #84 in P8, car #85 in P20 and car #11 in P21.
It’s going to be a fun weekend. Check our Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates and we’ll have a wrap up post on Monday.
Source and photo credits: Bentley, HTP Motorsport, @BentleyComms, @AndyMeyrick