The new Bentley Continental GT3 racecar got excellent results from its first test race after it logged fourth place finish in the Gulf 12 Hours of Abu Dhabi. Fielded by Team M-Sport, the Bentley Continental GT3 completed the first six hour session of the race in third place.
In the second half, the team managed to maintain the position until the final two hours, when it was engaged with a heated race with the Ferrari 458 GT3 of Kessel Racing, which the latter won. "In running an all-new car for the first time, our main goal today was to finish the race and be consistent," Bentley's Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, remarked, adding that they managed to achieve that and was also able to finish fourth.
He remarked that they "leave Abu Dhabi with confidence that we will have a reliable and competitive package for 2014, when the hard work really starts." The team was able to see the Bentley Continental GT3 run well throughout the 12-hour event, thereby demonstrating its endurance reliability.
Also impressive are the three new Bentley Boys who each piloted new Bentley Continental GT3 for four hours in the desert heat -- Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick. Smith, piloting a Bentley for the first time since the Le Mans victory in 2003, remarked that all three of the drivers found that they "could really push the car to the limit," adding that when they realized they were on for a good result, the vehicle encouraged them to really test its abilities.
"It's given us a lot to look forward to in the Blancpain series next year." Team M-Sport will now analyze the data obtained from the race, and will continue to develop the car in preparation for the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series, that will commence on April 12, 2014.
A dual wishbone suspension configuration front and rear, equipped with four-way flexible racing dampers, swaps the standard road-car air springs. The steering system includes water hydraulic power-assistance, while braking is by means of ventilated iron circles mixed with six-piston calipers on the front and four-piston calipers on the rear.
The exterior of the vehicle highlights a complete aerodynamic bundle, to enhance downforce with optimized drag. A top-mounted carbon fiber rear wing gives rear downforce and steadiness, while a carbon fiber splitter adjusts the aerodynamic strengths at the front of the vehicle. Remodeling has been done to the bonnet, bumpers, fenders and sills to upgrade the vehicle’s drag coefficient and to aid with engine cooling.
With the removal of the leather and wood interior trim, the production electrical systems and state-of-the-art refinement materials that allow the Continental GT such a skilled Grand Tourer, the Bentley Continental GT3 measures under its goal of 1300 kg. Notwithstanding the race-specification, the GT3 still remains a hand-made Bentley, with the steering wheel, door pulls and seat all hand-trimmed and sewed by Bentley craftspeople at Crewe.
The design has been finished by a specialist group of engineers from Bentley Motors bolstered by the Continental GT3 Technical Partner, M-Sport Ltd. Overseen from a dedicated motorsport office base at Bentley's Crewe manufacturing plant, an extra design office was built at M-Sport for the detail design levels and make of the first vehicle.