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Bentley GT3 Race Car

On Track for a Show of Power and Stamina

Bentley’s Continental GT3 team is carrying Naim all over Europe, and despite some early-season setbacks – which are, of course, the very stuff of the fiercest, top-level competition – the performance is improving all the time.

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When you go motor racing, you plan meticulously for success. ‘Luck’ is not a term to play with. But you know calamity must inevitably be taken in your stride. As the season reaches its crucial mid-way point, the twists and turns of the ultimate sports car racing series have tested the ethos of unpredictability to its fibres.

Bentley’s Team M-Sport is based at the Crewe factory, where the specially engineered Continental GT3 race cars are designed, constructed and maintained. While there are several ‘works-supported’ and privately-run Bentley teams following specific race calendars around the world, Naim supports the in-house brigade, whose cars and drivers contest the Blancpain GT Series.

This race schedule includes gruelling endurance races alongside shorter ‘sprint’ events, and team drivers include Steven Kane, Vince Abril, Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet, Guy Smith and newcomer Oliver Jarvis – the spirit of the 1930s ‘Bentley Boys’ brought into the 21st century. They all take orders from Brian Gush, Bentley’s vastly experienced Director of Motorsport and mastermind of the team’s progress.

Bentley GT3 Team Wins

The season got underway in absolutely thrilling fashion at Misano in Italy on 2 April. 

The Kane/Abril car finished second, battling wheel-to-wheel with rivals, and support working with near-digital exactness for pit-stops and timings. There was the good news. The shock was a wipe-out for the Soucek/Soulet Continental GT3 in a multiple pile-up in the qualifying race; the Bentley’s immensely strong structure meant there was no damage to a shaken Soucek, but the bodywork was written-off.

“It was great to have some points in the bag following the first race,” Brian Gush says. “It’s a long season ahead of us to make up lost ground, and we repaired the car to head into the second round. Everyone’s confidence and focus was unchanged – losing a car is very tough indeed, I take it personally, but you have to deal with it.”

That second heat was at Monza, Italy on 23/25 April, where victory went to a local Lamborghini, but the striking Naim-liveried GT3 of Abril/Soucek/Soulet fought strongly to take sixth place. An inexperienced Ferrari driver made it not such a great day for Guy Smith when the car clipped his Bentley, a Lamborghini was shunted on to the grass, and a communication mix-up over culpability resulted in his race finishing early.

“It was a racing incident, not Guy’s fault, and to be wrongly blamed for it meant it was a race we could have won that we were denied”, shrugs Brian. “We record an enormous amount of data during every single race, so we have all the proof. It’s not like football, where there’s no video evidence. However, of course you can’t change the final race result.”

Bentley GT3 and Naim Mu-so Qb

When we caught up with Brian, he was heading for Brands Hatch, where his cars were to contest a frantic, one-hour sprint event on 7 May: two drivers, half-an-hour each with a tyre change in between but no time for fuel stops – an all-out blast, as fast as possible.

“It’s frenetic to prepare for. It’s Friday so the garage is coming together – in fact, we have a Naim Mu-so unit in there, belting out music as the guys set up. Then, after the drivers have arrived, we’ll have a team meeting to discuss strategy before practice on Saturday, with the race on Sunday”.

Just five days later, and after the cars have been readied back at Crewe, the Bentley Boys will be heading south again, this time to Silverstone for the three-hour Blancpain Endurance Cup.

“We have to compete at Brands because there are points to be had, but Silverstone really suits the Bentleys – it’s a circuit that’s made for us.” Looking ahead, the team will contest the 24-Hour Nürburgring race on 28 May, the Blancpain fixture at Paul Ricard in France on 25 June, and another 24-hour marathon at Spa, Belgium on 20 July. If you can get to any of these races then join us in cheering them on. 

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