Bentley debuted its new Continental GT3 race car at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed, unveiling a racing machine set to explore the extreme potential of Bentley’s iconic Grand Tourer, the Continental GT.
Member of the Board for Engineering, Rolf Frech, commented, “The Continental GT3 exploits the incredible performance beneath the skin of every Continental GT. We’ve removed over 1000 kilograms of weight, reconfigured our 4.0-litre V8 to produce 600 bhp in race specification, and developed a comprehensive aerodynamic package to ensure that we perform competitively. We are now looking forward to getting the car on the track and proving its potential.”
The Continental GT3 is powered by a race-prepared and dry-sump version of Bentley’s powerful but efficient 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, with many components carried over from the road-going engine. Developing up to 600 bhp in unrestricted race configuration via a motorsport engine management system, the V8 provides the GT3 with highly competitive power in a compact and lightweight package that’s perfect for racing. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a carbon fibre propshaft to an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox with a limited slip differential, mounted as a transaxle for optimised weight distribution. Gear actuations are completed via a pneumatic shift system, controlled by paddles mounted to the steering wheel.
A double wishbone suspension configuration front and rear, fitted with four-way adjustable racing dampers, replaces the standard road-car air springs. The steering system features hydraulic power-assistance, while braking is via ventilated iron discs combined with six-piston calipers on the front and four-piston calipers on the rear.
The exterior of the car features a comprehensive aerodynamic package, to maximise downforce with optimised drag. A top-mounted carbon fibre rear wing provides rear downforce and stability, while a carbon fibre splitter balances the aerodynamic forces at the front of the car. Revisions have been made to the bonnet, bumpers, fenders and sills in order to optimise the car’s drag coefficient and to assist with engine cooling.
With the removal of the leather and wood interior trim, the production electrical systems and advanced refinement materials that make the Continental GT such a capable Grand Tourer, the Continental GT3 weighs in under its target of 1300 kg. Despite the race-specification, the GT3 remains a hand-crafted Bentley, with the steering wheel, door pulls and seat all hand-trimmed and stitched by Bentley craftspeople at Crewe.
The design has been completed by a specialist team of engineers from Bentley Motors supported by the Continental GT3 Technical Partner, M-Sport Ltd. Managed from a dedicated motorsport facility base at Bentley’s Crewe factory, an additional design office was created at M-Sport for the detail design stages and build of the first car.
The Continental GT3 now starts its programme of developmental track work, focussing on optimising the car’s performance based on simulations and refining the car’s abilities. Once homologation with the FIA has been completed, the GT3 will enter its first development races before starting full competition in the FIA Blancpain Series in 2014.
The Continental GT3 made its official running debut on the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb from Friday, July 12 until Sunday, July 14, piloted twice a day by Bentley Boy and 2003 Le Mans champion, Guy Smith.
The car was also be on display in the F1 paddock, while the original Continental GT3 Concept Racer, unveiled at the Paris Auto Salon last September, could be seen inside the Bentley stand in the main paddock.