What you see here is Bentley’s newest race car, the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, built explicitly to attack the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this June. This is the third time in as many years that Bentley has launched a factory effort at PPIHC, following a production car record in a Continental GT in 2019 and a production SUV record set by a Bentayga. This time Bentley is aiming for the Time Attack 1 record, a lofty goal, with mountain regular Rhys Millen at the wheel — Millen also drove in ’18 and ’19. There’s only one problem: this isn’t a GT3.
Cup Grand Touring Cars, colloquially known as GT3, is a set of regulations developed by SRO and maintained by the FIA for grand touring racing cars. Street cars are strictly homologated to the class with limits on horsepower, minimum weight, and aerodynamics. In order to run in the class, Bentley has to build all of its Continental GT3 racers to the same specification and it will receive adjustments to its performance relative to other cars in the class with series-mandated ballast or engine air intake restrictors.
While Bentley specifically calls its Pikes Peak machine a “GT3” it has been modified above and beyond the spec of the class so that it simply cannot be GT3 any longer. While it may have started as a car intended for GT3 homologation, it has been prepared and bastardized beyond the scope of that name. With a huge rear wing, the deepest diffuser I’ve ever seen, and a massive dual-plane front splitter flanked by gargantuan canards, it’s already beyond GT3, but then Bentley tuned the 4-liter twin-turbocharged engine to produce well more than the GT3 class allows. Come on, Stowe. Get your shit together.
Bentley’s Member of the Board for Engineering, Dr Matthias Rabe, comments:
“We are delighted to be returning to Pikes Peak for a third time – now powered by renewable fuel, as the launch project for another new element of our Beyond100 programme. Our powertrain engineers are already researching both biofuels and e-fuels for use by our customers alongside our electrification programme – with intermediate steps of adopting renewable fuels at the factory in Crewe and for our company fleet. In the meantime, the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will show that renewable fuels can allow motorsport to continue in a responsible way, and hopefully it will capture the third and final record in our triple crown.”
Pikes Peak doesn’t subscribe to any particular sanctioning body’s ruleset, preferring a run-what-you-brung approach, which is refreshing in today’s motorsport. I’m not knocking Bentley for building this truly badass Continental, but I do take umbrage with the use of GT3 in the name. I’m a stickler for things doing what they say on the tin.
To me, this car feels like the ultimate extension of a production-based machine. It’s kind of the GT version of what Porsche did with the 919 Hybrid Evo a few years ago. It took a car built to a very strict specification (in Porsche’s case the FIA’s LMP1 category) and removed the restrictive power and aero rules to see what it was capable of at full chat. If this had been called the Continental Evolution or some such thing, I wouldn’t even be writing this blog.