The last time a Bentley automobile took to the track in top-level motorsports was 2003, when the legendary brand from Crewe won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Bentley Speed 8.
Since then there have been inklings that the automaker was looking at a return to motorsports, which culminated late last year with news that a Bentley Le Mans comeback was imminent
Now we have news that Bentley is weighing up its options for a motorsports comeback and is currently banding together a team of experts to help decide the best category in which to compete.
Speaking with AutoWeek
, Bentley’s chassis and powertrain director Brian Gush revealed that the automaker has hired Graham Humphrys, the designer of the winning BMW prototype from the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
“Graham is helping us out with the feasibility work; he has a lot of experience in both GT and prototypes,” Gush revealed. “We are looking at a number of things, quite a few of them GT classes and other classes as well.”
Gush went on to explain that Humphrys has been hired as a consultant to help conduct a feasibility study into the options open to Bentley in its return to motorsports. Joining Humphrys is fellow Brit John Wickham, who was team director at Bentley 10 years ago.
If Bentley’s return to motorsports does get the go-ahead, expect it to compete initially in something like the GT3 category. In fact, Humphrys is believed to be eyeing the use of the Continental Supersports
as its GT3 contender.
Other, more extreme options, would be to wait for the arrival of the next-generation Continental in a few years or develop a race car from scratch and then homologate a road-going version.
Bentley’s history is littered with wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and its performance image, made famous by legends like the Bentley Boys and their infamous Blue Train Races, is something the current management team in Crewe would like to reinvigorate.
Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer, who is also the current chief of motorsports for the entire Volkswagen Group, has expressed in the past
that he liked the idea of Bentley selling race cars to customers. These cars would likely be based on Bentley’s road-going models, similar to what Porsche does with its 911. Late last year there were even reports that Bentley was looking at launching a ‘GT2’ version
of its Continental GT.