CREWE, England – Bentley officials have unveiled the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, which will compete in the Time Attack 1 class at the Pikes Peak Int’l Hill Climb later this year.
The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will be the first Bentley to run on renewable fuel as part of the organization’s new sustainability initiative.
The modified Continental GT3 racer, based on Bentley’s race- and championship-winning car, will power its way through the 12.42-mile course running on a biofuel-based gasoline. Various blends of fuels are currently being tested and evaluated, with possible Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions of up to 85 percent when compared to standard fossil fuel.
This is the first step of a longer program for Bentley that will see the company investigate both biofuels and e-fuels for their potential to power the Bentleys of past and present in a sustainable way.
As part of Bentley’s Beyond100 program, the organization goal is to become the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company, with the entire Bentley model range offered with Hybrid variants by 2023 ahead of Bentley being BEV-only by 2030.
“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 program,” said Dr. Matthias Rabe, Bentley’s Member of the Board for Engineering. “Our powertrain engineers are already researching both biofuels and e-fuels for use by our customers alongside our electrification program – 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.”
Bentley’s Pikes Peak project is being run in conjunction with British Continental GT3 customer team Fastr, who have successfully campaigned their Bentley race car in time attack competitions across the country. Technical teams from Bentley and Fastr are working together with specialists from M-Sport in Cumbria to extract the maximum possible performance from the Continental GT3 package, which will be run in Colorado by the same team and with assistance from K-PAX Racing.
To break the record, the car will have to complete the nearly 5,000 foot climb, which includes 156 corners, at an average speed of more than 78 mph to cross the finish line in less than nine minutes and 36 seconds.
To help achieve this target, Bentley has once again turned to three-time Pikes Peak champion Rhys Millen. It was with Millen that Bentley captured its two existing Pikes Peak records – the Production SUV record attained in 2018 with a Bentayga W12, and the outright Production Car record scored in 2019 with a Continental GT.
“There is no better proving ground for automotive engineering than the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Historically, manufacturer success on Pikes Peak translates to advances in consumer offerings,” explained Megan Leatham, executive director of the event. “With Rhys Millen’s proven performance on this mountain, we’re excited to see a possible third record from Bentley.”
With the start line at 9,300 feet, the course climbs to 14,115 feet – where the air is a third less dense than at sea level. This environment means that the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak features modifications both to its aerodynamics package and its engine, turning it into the most extreme iteration of a Continental GT – or indeed any Bentley road car – ever.
The biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley dominates the rear of the car, sitting above a rear diffuser that surrounds the transaxle gearbox. This rear aerodynamic package is balanced by a two-plane splitter at the front, flanked by separate dive planes.
The engine is Bentley’s proven racing power unit, developed from the 4.0-litre turbo V8 fitted to the Continental GT V8. For the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, engine modifications together with the use of biofuel will ensure the engine develops significant horsepower despite the rarefied conditions it will operate in. Short side-exit exhausts will ensure the car sounds as dramatic as it looks.
Further modifications include cooling air scoops in place of the rear windows and the obligatory stopwatch mounted to the roll cage next to the steering wheel to allow Millen to keep track of his sector times up the mountain.