In the late 20’s and early 1930’s Bentleys were driven by some well heeled gentleman with lots of dash and cash, called the Bentley Boys. One notable example was Sir Henry Birkin, who won Le Mans in a Bentley in 1929 and drove Bentleys to other victories both in Britain and the continent.
However, a press release is through heralding the return of massed Bentleys in 2016, with a 25-strong squadron of competition Bentleys that will be unleashed on the world’s racetracks in 2016.
Bentley race car
Plans for a one-make series to rival or surpass the Ferrari 458 Challenge are well under way at Bentley’s home in Crewe, the company’s chief revealed.
“For the future we are at present evaluating the potential of a luxury one-make cup, and this could take place on four continents, for about 25 entries,” Wolfgang Durheimer, CEO of Bentley, said at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
“We organize everything. We do everything. They have high-performance racing with high-performance cars. We want to be the number one.”
Durheimer says the Bentley racers would be positioned midway between the company’s road-going Continental and the GT3 racing version of the same car, which challenged for victory in this year’s Bathurst 12-Hour race in Australia and is returning to the Mount Panorama circuit in 2016.
He says air-conditioning will be essential in the cars, since he expects the series will attract well-funded ‘gentleman’ drivers without the skill or fitness of full-time professionals.
But he is keen on the championship and what it can bring to Bentley buyers who want more than just a road car. “Once you are signed in you have luxury track time in a high-performance car. I hope that we come to a good conclusion.”
Durheimer also confirmed for the first time that the Continental GT3 program will continue beyond the original three-year commitment, which has now seen 19 cars built for racing.
“Don’t assume we stop next year. Racing is part of our DNA. We are already evaluating the potential of the next car,” he said.
“Emotionally, it can drive our company to new horizons. Internally, it helps us to work in a very disciplined way and to be competitive and win. We want to be the number one and we intend to be the winner in the luxury performance game. We like to do the extraordinary things, not what everybody does.”
That is all very noble PR Speak, but Porsche has had their GT3 series going all over the world for some years, likewise the Ferrari challenge and similar from Lamborghini. Even in Thailand we have had Lotus Elyse categories. So, it isn’t “extraordinary” at all. Must say it is a nice touch leaving the air-con in the cars, and I wonder if these men of substance will have their chauffeurs driving for them, while the owner is sipping champers in the back seat.
Of course when you produce a one-make series you do not know if the Bentleys are inherently quicker or slower than their showroom rivals.