2014 Bentley Continental GT race car of Team M-Sport BentleyEnlarge Photo
Bentley is the latest automaker to announce its intentions to compete in the North American racing series that is the Pirelli World Challenge. Other recent entrants include Acura, which will start racing later this year, and McLaren, which entered the fray at the start of the 2014 season.
Bentley, which has only just made a return to the motorsport scene, competing with its Continental GT3 race car in the European Blancpain Endurance Series, hopes to eventually offer race cars to private teams all over the world, and what better way to promote its capabilities than beating some of the best in the business. Well, that's the plan.
But the British automaker isn’t rushing in. It will partner with successful team Dyson Racing and race a pair of Continental GT3s in the second half of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge in preparation for a full season of competition in 2015. It will compete in the premier GT class and make its debut at the Road America round taking place from June 19-21. For local Bentley fans, this will be the first North American race for a factory-backed Bentley since 2003.
Development work and assignments for the single-driver sprint races will be shared among Chris Dyson and long-time Dyson Racing team members Guy Smith and Butch Leitzinger. The latter are also veteran Bentley drivers, with Leitzinger among the drivers of the class-winning Bentley EXP-8 at Le Mans in 2001 and 2002, and Smith one of the drivers of the Bentley Speed 8 when it won overall at Le Mans in 2003.
“Now that our European motorsport program is up and running, securing a return to racing in our biggest market is the natural next step,” Bentley motorsport boss Brian Gush said in a statement. “It’s extremely exciting to be back here with a race car, and I’m delighted to be working with the Dyson team.