Bentley stormed into last year's Paris Motor Show with a hardcore, race-ready version of its Continental GT, announcing its return to racing after a decade of absence. The Continental GT3 Concept Racer didn't yet have an official engine, and it was unclear whether Bentley would go with a W12 or use its newer, more efficient V8. This week, Bentley said that it will be the 4.0-liter V8.
A 500-bhp V8 engine is hardly the pinnacle of fuel efficiency, but in Bentley's case, it was a maneuver aimed at increasing efficiency. When compared to the 567-bhp 6.0-liter W12, the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that Bentley brought to market last year offers up to 40 percent better fuel economy.
Bentley will use a race-configured version of that V8 in the Continental GT3. The engine will do its work with a six-speed sequential racing gearbox and chassis components like double wishbone suspension, four-way adjustable dampers and competition brakes.
When it comes to cutting weight, Bentley has had a relatively easy time, stripping the GT3 of all the heavy luxury amenities of the base Continental GT. Such equipment and accents are necessary for an ultra-premium production car but have no place in racing, and Bentley has slashed more than 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) worth of weight by eliminating them. The race car also uses carbon fiber race doors, hood and trunk lid, and its body is fortified with an FIA-spec roll cage.
Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, is leading the project. He took the company to victory at Le Mans in 2003 during Bentley's last racing program and seems confident that Bentley, with the help of its motorsport partner M-Sport Ltd, can do it again.
"Motorsport is an integral part of Bentley, and the performance and endurance qualities of all of our road cars reflect this racing heritage," Gush says. "Not one single part of the GT3 has escaped our attention, and the result is a car that can compete with the field in terms of factors such as power, weight and aerodynamics."
The GT3 will undergo testing in the near future before making its racing debut.