Bentley gave us the biggest indication yet that it’s seriously considering a return to motorsports with the unveiling of the striking Continental GT3 Concept at the recent 2012 Paris Auto Show. While any motorsport debut for Bentley is likely to be years away still, the automaker has confirmed that a Continental-based GT3 race car is currently being developed by a dedicated works team at its factory in Crewe, England.
Whether this new race car will be used for FIA-sanctioned events such as the GT3 European Championship or World Endurance Championship, or if Bentley simply creates its own one-make series for it, similar to what rivals such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati already do, remains to be seen.
Whatever the case, the Continental GT3 Concept remains faithful to Bentley's founding motorsport philosophy of developing racing cars from their road-going counterparts. This latest video shows the full evolution from road car to race car, with the Continental GT getting a new life in the form of the Continental GT3 Concept.
No specs for the Bentley racer have been announced, as these will likely be revised multiple times as development continues. It’s likely Bentley will be using its 4.0-liter V-8 rather than its W-12 engine for motorsport applications, as the smaller--and considerably lighter--V-8 is positioned as the sportier engine option in Bentley’s lineup, while the W-12 is reserved for the prestige end of town.
While Bentley concedes the concept provides a solid foundation for the automaker’s long-term motorsport plans, to keep interest alive in the shorter term, we may be fortunate enough to see a road-going version launched, perhaps as the replacement for the yet to be updated Continental Supersports model.