Bentley today, might be known for its ultra-luxurious, elegantly crafted automobiles, but it has always been a company that raced its cars. In fact, it has been into racing since 1919, the year it was set up. It shone at Brooklands in the 1920s; it conquered 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same decade and returned to dominate it in 2003. And now, in keeping with the spirit of the times, Bentley’s new renewable fuels research and development program will be headlined by the most far-out Bentley ever. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, which will compete for the Time Attack 1 record at this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado. The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will be the first competition where Bentley will use renewable fuel and be an integral part of the manufacturer’s mission to offer sustainable fuels to its customers.
The modified Continental GT3 racer, based on Bentley’s race- and championship-winning car, will run on a biofuel-based gasoline at Pikes Peak, an automotive race that has been held annually since 1916. While various blends of fuels are currently being evaluated, Bentley expects possible Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions of up to 85 percent over standard fossil fuel. Bentley’s goal, as underlined by its Beyond 100 program, is to become the world’s leading sustainable luxury automobile company, and by 2023, the manufacturer’s entire model range will be offered with hybrid variants.
The engine that will power the car has been developed from the 4.0-litre turbo V8 fitted to the Continental GT V8. Modifications include short side-exit exhausts for aural drama to match the car’s looks, and cooling air scoops in place of the rear windows. At the wheel will be three-time Pikes Peak champ Rhys Millen, with whom Bentley has set two existing Pikes Peak records—the Production SUV record set in 2018 with a Bentayga W12, and the outright Production Car record in 2019 with a Continental GT.
According to 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.”