You saw it first at FoS, but the new Conti GT3-R has just turned its wheels in public for the first time at the 24 Hours of Spa today.
It’s the first time ever a new car has been presented during a Blancpain Endurance Series event, and the new race-inspired road car led the RACB GT Club parade before the start of the main event.
Bentley has already announced the new British supercar will have a production run of 300, but this is the only Continental GT3-R in existence at the moment. Bentley Boy Jérôme D’Ambrosio and Bentley’s chief engineer Rolf Frech had the honour of showing off the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 machine during its parade lap – and Jochen of Frozenspeed snapped it for GRR.
It’s a big event for Bentley this weekend, as it’s the first 24hr endurance race the company has entered since winning Le Mans in 2003 with the Speed 8.
Championship leading drivers of the number 7 Continental GT3 – Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane – put the car sixth on the starting grid after a decent qualifying session but the GT3 has been hampered this weekend by changes to its ‘balance of performance’, reducing engine output and adding weight.
“We think the Continental GT3 will suit Spa, but our pace has been dealt a blow with a new Balance of Performance that will certainly restrict us,” Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush reckons. “The thrill of 24-hour racing is that it could be anyone’s race, and we’ll be racing to give the British fans something to cheer about.”
“Spa will be a race like no other this season, as the only 24-hour marathon on the calendar,” says driver Steven Kane. “The first test race for the Bentley was the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi, and we’ve done a 24-hour test too, so we know we have the reliability. Hopefully we can complement that with the speed needed to compete for major points!”
Belgian former F1 driver Jérôme D’Ambrosio will be racing with Duncan Tappy and Antoine Leclerc in the second Continental GT.
“It’s an historic track, including some of the best corners in the world, and to be racing in front of my home fans again will be fantastic. It’s a really tricky circuit, and while I’ve raced here in series from Formula Renault to F1, I’ve never driven it in the dark – that’s a really exciting new challenge. Duncan, Antoine and I will be looking for our best result of the season so far and I’m confident we can have a great race,” he says.
For some great pre-race pictures of the Bentley team in action at Spa, check out the gallery: