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Bentley Returns to Endurance Racing at the 24 Hours of Spa

Bentley Continental GT3

This weekend, million-dollar vehicles will be racing a full 24 hours to win a legendary European race. This race isn’t Le Mans, but it’s equally grueling (albeit less renowned) 24 Hours of Spa.

While it doesn’t have the allure of the 24-hour marathon race held in France, Spa offerings the same challenges for both man and machine. This year’s race is also unique in that it will mark Bentley’s first appearance in an endurance race since 2003.

For this race, Bentley took its Continental and gave it a dramatic revision to create the Continental GT3 racer. Perhaps the biggest change the was weight—which got reduced from 6,063 pounds to a 2,866 pounds. Engineers also increased the output of its twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V8 from 521 horsepower to 600 hp. Power is routed through a Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox with a limited slip differential. Suspension and driveline components were also upgraded to make it even more aggressive on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

With a reduction in weight and a bump in power, one could only image the result—especially considering the production Continental can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. But since this is a 24 hour race, speed isn’t the only consideration. Teams must keep the car going the entire race.

Bentley has a team of experienced drivers that will help balance speed and consistency on the track, while the folks in the pit will ensure its reliability. The drivers in particular will need to endure adrenaline and fatigue while staying alert and fighting off the best drivers and vehicles from BMW, Audi, Ferrari, and others.

While the 24 Hours of Spa doesn’t have the notoriety of Le Mans, it’s still the ultimate test for man and machine. For Bentley, this is an opportunity to build on the momentum it has already achieved this racing season. It’s also an opportunity for the automaker to recapture its reputation as an endurance racing powerhouse.

“Bentley’s motorsport heritage is built on 24-hour racing, and the last time we took part in a race of this length was our victory at Le Mans in 2003,” said Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush. “The nature of racing over so many hours means that we not only need a reliable car with great performance, but a good deal of luck. 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. 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.”

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