Anyone who just heard the interview with the Bentley pits on the Nürburgring 24 Hours broadcast heard a strange emotion out of the very British team: giddiness. Not only do they expect Daytona Prototypes to stick around in Tudor United SportsCar, they’re really excited about running one.
There are new LMP2 regulations coming for 2017, and all kinds of rumors about what they may entail: a limited manufacturer list, and hopefully more standardization between IMSA’s prototype-class cars and LMP2s in the rest of the world. Up until today, though, many people assumed that Daytona Prototypes would be retired with the new rules, but it appears as though that might not be the case.
“It’s not decided yet on what will come in Daytona,” Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer told Sportscar365. “My personal reading of the subject is that Daytona Prototypes will not die out. They will exist alongside the P2 class.”
Daytona Prototypes, of course, are those funny-looking prototypes with squatty fronts that only appear in America. However, they’re still very competitive in TUSC, and a Bentley-powered one would be pretty quick, given their successful Continental GT3 program.
“We have a very competitive V8 engine that’s in [the Continental GT3], so we would need to do a chassis and a body,” Durheimer told Sportscar365.
With all the knee-jerk “eww, NASCAR in my sportscars!11!” reactions that the Daytona Prototypes get, I can’t think of a more hilariously appropriate company to run one than the ultra-classy squad at Bentley. If it’s not hilarious enough seeing a big Continental GT3 run around the track looking like it’s late for afternoon tea, imagine that classy imagery splattered all over a Riley, Coyote or Dallara body. I can’t think of anything funnier. NAS-what? ‘xactly.
Sportscar365 reports that Bentley has been in close contact with IMSA, both in trying to get their Continental GT3 homologated for TUSC as well as attending the latest LMP2 manufacturers’ meeting. They’re definitely interested, and I fully expect to hear that wonderful V8 in United SportsCar very, very soon, in something. Perhaps they’ll enter the GT3 car first, and then look into a new prototype.
It makes good marketing sense for Bentley to go racing in TUSC as well. According to Sportscar365, the United States is Bentley’s biggest market. Dyson Racing already runs a Bentley Continental GT3 in Pirelli World Challenge, however, adding some of the United States’ most famous sportscar races to Bentley’s schedule makes a lot of sense.
“It’s our philosophy at Bentley Motors to race where we can win overall,” explained Durheimer to Sportscar365.
Bentley’s last prototype race car was the Speed 8 pictured above, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003. They don’t joke around. Racing is the utmost of serious business *sticks pinkie finger out*, ja.
Their GT3 cars are quick, but there’s something very enticing about an overall win at a place like Daytona or Sebring. A Daytona Prototype would give them the chance, should the class stick around after 2017.
Photo credit: Newspress
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