Currently reading: Bentley remains warm over Le Mans 24 Hours return
British manufacturer could be represented by privateer racing teams if rule changes permit its Continental GT3 to compete at La Sarthe

Bentley remains open to the idea of returning to the Le Mans 24 Hours in the future, although it could be as a privateer effort rather than a full-blown works team.

Although the British manufacturer's thundering Continental GT3 car isn't currently eligible to compete in the famous endurance race, rules changes expected in the near future should open the door for it to compete, along with other GT3-specification machinery from the likes of McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lamborghini.

But entrants in the Grand Touring categories at Le Mans don't run at the front, and Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer viewed that as a potential sticking point as far as a works effort is concerned.

"If the rules change then we would be eligible to go to Le Mans with this car. It's not decided whether we will do it because when we are racing at the moment we are going for overall victories and we're not out to win classes. At Le Mans we cannot make an overall victory without having an LMP1 car," he said.

M-Sport, the Cumbrian firm collaborating with Bentley on the Continental GT3, has now built 17 examples of the car, some for independent racing teams, and Dürheimer thinks it feasible that one of them could enter the French race: "If the changes happen I think we will see at least customer teams racing in a Continental GT3 car at Le Mans."

Bentley's boss said he was satisfied with the success accrued by the Continental GT3 so far: "We like this project very much. With the Continental GT3 as a race car, people realise that it is essentially the same car. It has lightweight construction, new engineering and ideas for the future which our road cars will benefit from.

"It fits exactly with the image and the approach of the Bentley Boys of the past. It's gentleman racing, it's fast and the cars have big, noisy engines."

Dürheimer confirmed that a follow-up to the limited edition, race-bred Continental GT3-R road car was in the works, as predicted by Autocar earlier this year.

"The GT3-R, is a big success. People like it; we have some customers who ordered a second already after having one, in order to have more fun on the tracks, and so I think we will have a second edition coming," he said.

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Peter Cavellini 20 April 2015

Bentley boys!

Factory team or Privateer,it doesn't really matter,the Cars kind of remind me of when Jaguar raced XJ12C's.