Bentley Supersports Convertible sets a new world speed record on ice

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 17, 2011

Juha Kankkunen, Finland’s four-time world rally champion, drove a Bentley Continental Supersports convertible on the dangerous frozen waters of the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Finland, at 205.48 mph (330.695 km/h) to set a new world speed record on ice.

Kankkunen drove the all-wheel drive, 6-liter, 12-cylinder Continental Supersports convertible which, in line with the company’s carbon dioxide strategy, ran on biofuel.

The world’s fastest soft top allowed Juha to shatter his own 2007 world ice speed record of 199.83 mph (321.6 km/h) set in the Continental GT at the same location.

Kankkunen, together with his experienced team and Bentley engineers, overcame the challenges of temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees, sudden snow blizzards and potentially dangerous crosswinds on the 16.5km track on a 70cm-thick layer of sea ice.

Kankkunen’s new world record was based on the average of two runs in opposite directions with measured speeds ratified by a representative of The Guinness Book of Records. His record attempt was driven on a 1000m long measured distance with the speed certified by Finland Traffic Police officials.

Nonetheless, Bentley was able to complement the superior performance of the Continental Superports Convertible with agile handling, high levels of ride comfort and unmistakable refinement. The Bentley Continental Superports Convertible is derived from the GTC Speed, but features a number of chassis enhancements like the stiffer front suspension bushes, retuned electronic Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system and uprated rear anti-roll bar.

Also, the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible features the same ride height as the GTC Speed – 10 mm (0.4in) lower at the front and 15 mm (0.6in) lower at the rear than the standard GTC. Boasting a new hydraulic bush design, the front suspension trailing lever of the Continental Superports Convertible is now 33 percent stiffer than those of GTC Speed, resulting in better steering response.

The Continental Superports Convertible also boasts of an uprated rear anti-roll bar for better improved body control and turn-in response. Thanks to the retuned CDC system, body movement could now be better controlled to help achieve the optimum balance between agile handling and ride comfort. Thanks to the 40:60 rear-biased torque split for the all-wheel drive system, the vehicle experiences reduced understeer during hard cornering.

This enhances the vehicle’s agility and allows an experienced driver to temper its line and balance through precise throttle control. The Continental Superports Convertible rides on 9.5Jx20-inch forged alloy wheels that are also found on the Supersports Coupé.

These wheels help save around 10kg (22lb) from the vehicle’s overall weight, thereby cutting unsprung and rotating mass. Its open 10-spoke design helps provide superb brake cooling. Handling and stability of the Continental Superports Convertible are further enhanced by giving the rear wheels a 25mm (one inch) more offset, making the rear track around 50mm (2 inches) wider.

Wrapping the wheels are 275/35 ZR 20 Pirelli Ultra-High Performance tires. Interestingly, the Continental Superports Convertible is fitted with a standard tire monitoring system that helps in the selection of tire type and speed range parameters. This system monitors tire pressure and even provides a warning if the speed is too high for the chosen pressures or if tire speed ratings are overdone on winter tires.

Moreover, the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is provided with an advanced electronic stability program (ESP) that regulates intervention at low speeds, thereby optimizing the capability of its engine and its improved chassis to enhance driver interaction and control. This ESP also allows for faster reinstatement of engine torque following an intervention, thereby providing greater control.

Likewise, the target slip has been raised to more 90 percent throttle to use all available longitudinal grip. In addition, the car’s corner exit agility has also been enhanced to allow for increased driver involvement. Bentley has ensured that modifications are made to the chassis, tire and track resulted to better grip, turn-in and agility.

Providing the needed stopping power are standard carbon ceramic brakes that reduces rotation of an unsprung mass of 20kg (44lb) from the front axle.

These brakes include lightweight 420mm front and 356mm rear discs as well as eight-piston calipers, offering durable with minimal disc distortion even when under high thermal conditions. Bentley also improved pedal feel and effectiveness by inducing shorter travel, creating a more precise pressure point.

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