Bentley Continental GT3 - Luxury on Diet
The Continental GT3 exploits the incredible performance beneath the skin of every Continental GT by removing over 1.000 kilograms of weight, and more.
Bentley debuted its new Continental GT3 race car at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed last month, 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, comments: “The Continental GT3 exploits the incredible performance beneath the skin of every Continental GT. We’ve removed over 1.000 kilograms of weight, reconfigured our 4.0-liter 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-liter 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 fiber prop shaft to an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox with a limited-slip differential, mounted as a transaxle for optimized 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.
Nipped and Tucked in the engine bay
The exterior of the car features a comprehensive aerodynamic package, to maximize downforce with optimized drag. A top-mounted carbon fiber rear wing provides rear downforce and stability, while a carbon-fiber 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 optimize the car’s drag coefficient and assist with engine cooling.
With the removal of the leather and wood interior trim, the production of 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 1.300 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 detailed design stages and build of the first car.
The Continental GT3 now starts its program of developmental track work, focusing on optimizing 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 in July, piloted twice a day by Bentley Boy and 2003 Le Mans champion, Guy Smith. The car was 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 at the main paddock.