Bentley Continental GT3 Concept Racer

2012 Paris Auto Show


  • Bentley Continental GT3 Concept Racer Picture

    Bentley Continental GT3 Concept Racer Picture

    Bentley Continental GT3 Concept Racer. | September 25, 2012

5 Photos

2012 Paris Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • Bentley dropped a major bombshell on the eve of the 2012 Paris Auto Show, taking the wraps off the Bentley Continental GT3 Concept Racer and announcing that it intends to return to the racetrack for the first time since 2003.
  • Bentley said the GT3 racer is being developed by a dedicated motorsport team at the company's factory in Crewe, England.
  • Bentley is taking a page from Porsche's playbook, which uses racing not only for marketing benefits, but as an internal motivator that can often change the way people work inside of an automaker.

PARIS — Bentley dropped a major bombshell on the eve of the 2012 Paris Auto Show, taking the wraps off the Bentley Continental GT3 Concept Racer and announcing that it intends to return to the racetrack for the first time since 2003.

Bentley said the GT3 racer is spun off the new GT Speed and is being developed by a dedicated motorsports team at the company's factory in Crewe, England. The automaker plans a return to racing by the end of 2013 with a GT racecar.

Bentley is taking a page from Porsche's playbook, which uses racing not only for marketing benefits, but as an internal motivator that can often change the way people work inside of an automaker.

"The clear message from our customers is that Bentley belongs on the racetrack, and the Continental GT3 is the realization of a dream we've had ever since the launch of the Continental GT," said Wolfgang Schreiber, Bentley CEO, in a statement. "The new GT Speed is the perfect car for us to develop into a racer, and our work so far has shown huge potential."

While not spelling out specific events, Bentley said the new racer will be eligible to compete in a range of race series and events, "up to and including 24-hour marathons."

Presumably, the Bentley racer would compete at such venues as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, a touring car and GT endurance-racing event on the Nordschleife, or north loop of the Nürburgring.

With the announcement of a GT racecar, Bentley appears to have stopped short of developing a new prototype racer — a more exotic vehicle that would not have street roots.

During the 1920s, Bentley was a powerhouse in racing, setting new speed records. Bentley first won Le Mans in 1924 and from 1927-'30 won the prestigious race each year. In 2003, 73 years since Bentley's last Le Mans win, two Bentley Speed 8s entered the epic 24-hour endurance race. They came in 1st and 2nd. But Bentley hasn't been involved in motorsports since then.

"Development of the Continental GT3 will continue over the coming months in the build-up to the start of a test program in 2013," Bentley said.

Edmunds says: This is not "everyman" racing. Expect Bentley's return to the track to be old school in some ways, with gentlemen racing their expensive cars. It's definitely going to add more spice to the brand, especially if Bentley gets a win in a big race.

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