This article is originally from supercars.net.
Mulliner and Bentley Sydney have created a pair of special Bentleys inspired by the grueling Bathurst 12 Hour, where Bentley was victorious in 2020 with its Continental GT3 racer. The recent launch in Australia of the new Continental GT S provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate V8-powered performance, with the special edition paying tribute to the road car’s racing sibling, the Continental GT3.
The Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the most prestigious endurance races in Australia, held annually at the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales. The race attracts top drivers and teams from around the world, who compete over a grueling 12-hour period in a variety of high-performance vehicles. In recent years, Bentley Motors has been a regular contender at the Bathurst 12 Hour, fielding some of the most impressive and competitive GT cars on the grid.
Bentley Motors is a British luxury car manufacturer with a long and storied history in motorsport. The company has been involved in racing since the 1920s, and has achieved numerous victories in events such as the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Blancpain GT Series. Bentley’s racing heritage is reflected in its current lineup of high-performance GT cars, including the Continental GT3, which is the model that competes in the Bathurst 12 Hour.
The Bentley Continental GT3 is a purpose-built race car that is based on the road-going Continental GT. It is powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that produces over 600 horsepower, which is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. The car features a lightweight carbon fiber body and a range of aerodynamic components that generate downforce and reduce drag, helping it to achieve speeds of over 170 miles per hour.
Bentley has been competing in the Bathurst 12 Hour since 2015, and has enjoyed considerable success in the event. The team’s first year saw them finish in 7th place overall, while in 2016 they secured a podium finish with 3rd place. In 2017, Bentley claimed its first Bathurst victory, with the Continental GT3 driven by Vincent Abril, Steven Kane, and Guy Smith crossing the finish line first after 290 laps of the Mount Panorama Circuit.
Since then, Bentley has continued to field strong entries at the Bathurst 12 Hour, with a particular focus on local talent from Australia and New Zealand. The team has also introduced a number of special liveries and branding for the event, including the striking green and gold design that was used in 2018.
The 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour saw Bentley field a two-car team, with the #7 car driven by Steven Kane, Guy Smith, and Jules Gounon, and the #8 car driven by Maxime Soulet, Vincent Abril, and Andy Soucek. Both cars were competitive throughout the race, with the #7 car leading the race for a number of laps. However, both cars suffered mechanical issues that forced them to retire from the race, marking a disappointing end to the event for the team.
Despite this setback, Bentley remains a major player in the Bathurst 12 Hour, and is expected to continue fielding strong entries in the years to come. The team’s success at the event is a testament to the performance and reliability of the Continental GT3, as well as the skill and expertise of the team’s drivers and mechanics.
For fans of motorsport and high-performance cars, the Bathurst 12 Hour is an event not to be missed. The combination of high-speed racing, endurance challenges, and stunning Australian scenery makes for a truly unforgettable experience. And with Bentley Motors competing in the event, there is always the chance to witness some truly remarkable feats of engineering and driving skill.
Focused on driving performance and visual presence, the Continental GT S shares a number of characteristics with its track-based counterpart, thereby providing the perfect foundation for the pair of specially-commissioned road cars.
The two cars in the pair both have individual specifications. The first car takes inspiration from the livery of the winning race car, with an exterior is bright Apple Green, contrasted by a Beluga black roof, wing mirrors, lower bumper, and rear boot silhouette. The unique front visual also includes a number seven painted on the grille matrix, as per the racer.
The contemporary performance theme continues with the inclusion of the Blackline Specification – replacing all exterior bright chrome work with polished black versions – and the Styling Specification (front splitter, side skirts, and rear diffuser in carbon fiber) providing a more aggressive visual stance.
The cabin is far more luxurious than the race car counterpart whilst offering a performance feel. Using a mixture of Leather and Dinamica in Beluga with Apple Green accents via micro-piping and contrast stitch, the interior complements the exterior perfectly. ‘BATHURST’ has been stitched into the headrests and ‘One of Two’ can be seen on the treadplates. A unique metal overlay depicting the track has been included in the carbon fiber technical finish fascias on the passenger side, and the names of the victorious drivers together with the winning number seven can be found on the center console.
Shane Rudzis, Bathurst 12 Hour Event Director comments: “Bentley quickly became an iconic part of the Bathurst 12 hour and a fan favorite team of most who attended. They ‘brought the thunder’ to the Mountain and their 2020 victory remains one of the most popular in the history of the race, creating iconic scenes that will long be replayed. We are proud to help Bentley celebrate that famous result with this pair of incredibly special and unique Continental GT S vehicles, much like the pair of Continental GT3 entries that were so impressive on the Mountain for many memorable years.”
The second car is painted in Silver Tempest to reflect the introduction of the second-generation Continental GT3 that was launched in late 2017 and started competing in 2018. Car number two mirrors the first, with black chrome and the carbon fiber Styling Specification to the exterior and a bespoke cabin. Each car will be supplied with a commemorative framed artifact and a 1:18 scale model of the winning car.
The Mulliner team celebrated a new milestone 10 2022 in personal commissions, after creating 500 unique Mulliner Bentley projects for customers around the world in just 12 calendar months. The team’s portfolio includes coachbuilt cars such as the Batur, heritage limited editions including the Blower, and a wide variety of stunning and unique customer projects where imagination is the only limitation.
Race-Inspired V8 Performance
The new S range retains the 542 bhp (550 PS) and 770 Nm 4.0-litre V8 engine that’s proved incredibly popular with customers around the world, delivering a time of just 4.0 seconds for 0-62 mph (100 km/h). For the GT and GTC S, the engine is enhanced by the fitment as standard of a Sports Exhaust to amplify the crossplane V8 beat.
The eager, free-revving, and lighter 4.0-litre V8 engine gives the Continental GT S models a responsive and agile character, and this is amplified by Bentley Dynamic Ride – the advanced 48V electric active anti-roll control system first pioneered by Bentley. By generating up 1300 Nm in 0.3 seconds, motors within the anti-roll bars actively compensate for cornering forces to minimize body roll under hard cornering, while also improving ride comfort at cruising speeds by decoupling the left- and right-hand wheels from each other.
From Road to Track
The latest generation Continental GT3 race car was developed in tandem with the Continental GT road car. It used a mostly aluminum structure to deliver a much lighter, race-ready weight of less than 1300 kg together with improved weight distribution – ideal for racing. The engine was a new development of the race-proven 4.0-litre Bentley twin-turbo V8, with a redesigned dry sump system and all-new intake and exhaust systems.
Highly optimized road car intercoolers were used in the Continental GT3 to provide optimum engine performance. Unrestricted power was in excess of 550 bhp and fuel consumption was improved. Despite reduced exhaust noise, the sound was still unmistakably Bentley, and characteristically thunderous.
Exterior aerodynamic surfaces, based on the sleekly refined lines of the latest generation road car provide additional downforce. New suspension and braking systems were also bespoke to the GT3 car.
Bentley’s 2020 Bathurst Win
The Continental GT has demonstrated its extraordinary breadth of ability on the road and on the track, particularly by taking overall victory in Continental GT3 form at the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2020. The #7 Continental GT3 of Maxime Soulet (BEL), Jordan Pepper (ZAR), and Jules Gounon (FRA) dominated the opening round of the 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge that year, sweeping to victory after starting P11.
The car moved quickly through the order into podium contention. World-class stints from Soulet, Pepper, and Gounon, and strong strategy and pit stops from the team, moved the team into P1 for a total time of seven hours – with the car running flawlessly. A superb reactionary pit stop just over an hour from the end to deal with a puncture was the final act from the team to set the car up for victory. Rain loomed while ambient temperatures exceeded 40°C, but after the half-day sprint the #7 Continental GT3 crossed the line as the winner of the Bathurst 12 Hour. As they took the chequered flag, the crew also set a new race distance record of 314 laps – before the heavens opened and the team rejoiced in the rain.
Overall, the Bathurst 12 Hour Bentleys are a testament to the performance and technology that is embodied by Bentley Motors. The team’s continued success at the event is a testament to the skill and dedication of its drivers, mechanics, and support staff, as well as the enduring legacy of Bentley’s racing heritage.
Thanks to the author in sportscars.net for this interesting article.