Bentley Continental GT3

26 Sep, 2012 7:30pm Tom Phillips

Bentley has unveiled the Continental GT3 concept, previewing a return to motorsport competition

This is the Bentley Continental GT3 concept, which has been shown at the Paris Motor Show and previews the company's planned return to motorsport competition.

The GT3 concept is based on the Bentley Continental GT Speed, but the car has been given a significant overhaul in preparation for its competition debut.

A definitive decision is yet to be made, but the GT3 will either use a race-tuned version of the GT Speed road car’s 616bhp 6.0-litre W12, or the new 500bhp 4.0-litre V8, depending on what suits the regulations better.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox will be swapped for a racing sequential transmission, and the four-wheel-drive system has been ditched in favour of rear-wheel drive to meet GT3 regulations.

The car is due to run for the first time in race trim late in 2013, where the powertrain and dramatic aerodynamic package will be refined.

Next year marks 10 years since Bentley scored an historic 1-2 finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours. However, that was with its Bentley Speed 8 prototype, which competed in the top LMP1 class.

The new Continental GT3 concept is a different proposition. It will still race in long-distance events, but is designed for the GT3 category of cars based on road-going models, which is currently not eligible to race at the French classic.

Bentley’s GT3 car will compete against rivals like the McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 and Mercedes SLS AMG GT3. The Bentley will also face off against the Audi R8 LMS Ultra and Porsche 911 GT3 R from within the VW Group.

The Bentley Continental GT3 is being developed in-house at the company’s Crewe factory by a team working under Bentley’s head of motorsport, Brian Gush, who also oversaw the Le Mans-winning Speed 8 project.

Bentley plans to make its GT3 car available to customer teams, as well as running a factory Bentley team. There are currently no plans for a special road-going GT Super Speed based on the GT3 car.