Bentley has chosen three British drivers to spearhead its first official race outing in a decade.
The Bentley Continental GT3 will make its competitive debut in the Gulf 12 Hours enduro in Abu Dhabi next month. It will be the Crewe-based company's first race since its victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2003 with the Speed 8 prototype.
Guy Smith – who was part of the winning Le Mans team ten years ago – will be partnered by Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick in two six-hour races at the Yas Marina circuit on 13 December.
The Continental GT3, which is powered by a race-prepared and dry-sump version of Bentley’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 producing up to 600bhp, has been designed and built by the Bentley Motorsport team in conjunction with Cockermouth-based M-Sport. The Bentley GT3 design team is led by Bentley Motorsport chief designer Graham Humphrys and M-Sport’s chief engineer, Christian Loriaux.
Bentley’s director of motorsport, Brian Gush, said his team was well prepared: “After completing development and endurance testing on a variety of race tracks around Europe since we unveiled the car at Goodwood in July, we’re confident that the Continental GT3 is prepared for its first test race.
"While the development work never stops, we feel ready to take on the competition for the first time in Abu Dhabi. I’m delighted with our driver selection, and in Guy, Steven and Andy we have world-class talent. All at Team M-Sport Bentley are thrilled to be racing next month.”
The sole entry from Bentley will face stern opposition from a host of rival GT3 machines such as the Ferrari 458 Italia, Audi R8, Porsche 911 997 GT3 R, Lamborghini Gallardo, Mercedes SLS AMG and McLaren MP4-12C. AF Corse, the winning team for the past two years, has entered four Ferraris.
The Gulf 12 Hours adopts a two-part format, with a two-hour break in between the races. The first sector is held in daylight, before competitors race under floodlights in part two.