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The Bentley Boys are still a thing and their machines sound better than ever

Jeff Glucker November 8, 2018 Featured, Motorsports 7 Comments

When you think of Bentley, you no doubt picture modern Continental GTs being hustled around overpriced shopping centers and driven by folks who have no clue about the history of the very machine their piloting. That’s fine. That’s how the timeline of an automaker works, and it’s not something specific to Bentley. For you though, you know about W.O. You’ve heard the name Woolf Barnato. You understand that Bentley has always had a toe dipped in the enticing waters of motorsport. The Bentley Boys kicked ass  back in the 20’s and 30’s… and a modern crop of drivers continues to run hard and wear that name well.

While back in 1930, the car might have been a massive 8-liter inline six-cylinder beast, today things are a bit more complex. Bentley has a brand-new Continental GT and with it comes a fresh GT3 race car. Under the hood sits a modified version of the engine found in the road car. It’s a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that lurks under the hood of many a VAG family member. This one, however, runs angry thanks to a Cosworth engine management system and meters out power to the rear wheels via a Ricardo six-speed sequential gearbox. The tires are massive 355-series Pirelli racing slicks, the driveshaft is carbon fiber, and the whole affair weighs under 2,900 pounds. That’s a ton for a race car, but a featherweight for a Bentley.

This season marks the first one for the second-generation Continental GT3. Just like the version before it, you can immediately tell when one is set to pass by your track vantage point. It sounds like nothing else, as it rambles past with its gurgling, churning V8 mill. The AMG race cars might have a bit more roar, but the Bentleys kick in a dose more bass.

Factory drivers Jordan Pepper, Steven Kane, Jules Gounon, Maxime Soulet, Vince Abril, and Andy Soucek split time amongst two fresh GT3 racers. K-PAX racing also runs a car but it’s the prior generation GT3, and it still sounds good and looks hot with with it’s British Racing Green paint. Alvaro Parente, formerly piloting a McLaren, is helming the K-PAX car along with Rodrigo Baptista. Bentley Factor drivers Soulet and Soucek also run in the K-PAX cars as well.

All together, they comprise the modern Bentley Boys. It’s a term they where proudly. And they should as it’s a historic link to Bentley glory days filled with Blower Bentleys, race wins, and four consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Your author, trying to join the Bentley Boy club and failing

I had the chance to chat with a portion of the Bentley Boys crew ahead of their season finale at Laguna Seca. The California 8 Hours, which is the longest race held at the iconic circuit, serves as the 2018 season closer for the Intercontinental GT Challenge. You’ll see GT3, Pro-Am, GTC, GTC, and TCR cars all gunning for glory on the same track, at the same time. And the Bentley Boys love running through the thick of it all. It’s a challenge for their big, beastly machine to run through the pack but that’s part of the fun found in their race car. Fast sweeping circuits are where they shine, so Laguna was sure to put up a bit of a fight for this team.

For the Bentley Boys, the goal was to finish strong but this is still a development year for the car and team. The series was championship would fall to a battle between Mercedes-AMG and Audi. Audi took the manufacturers top spot, while an AMG driver won the racers title. Bentley was running strong but an on-track incident derailed their pit and racing strategy. Still, the #8 car (helmed by Soucke, Abril, and Soulet) fought hard and crawled back to a 6th place finish. The K-PAX car finished 11th and the #7 Bentley right behind it in 12th.

Now it’s time to head back and use all of the knowledge gleaned from a full racing season to prepare the car for 2019. It looks good. It sounds good. The drivers piloting the cars are good. Now’s the time to setup to finish on the steps.

[All images courtesy of the very talented on behalf of Bentley]

  • Back in the day I was a big fan of Bentleys. One of my favorite books as a kid was Speed Six! about the young owners of a vintage car resoration business in-post war Britain. To save their struggling business they enter their vintage Bentley in Le Mans and win saving the day and becoming famous with a 25 year old car, the fastest lorry on the circuit.

    • Forgot the picture!

      • outback_ute

        Interesting they have put a supercharger on a Speed Six.

        I suppose the new cars will be at the Bathurst 12 Hour next year, the old cars were a bit out-classed this year.

  • Zentropy

    Great candid photos!

    • Jeff Glucker

      Photographer’s IG is tagged at the bottom of the post

  • Rover 1

    It’s good to see that Bentley is keeping their racing heritage alive with their new racers. At the other end of the timeline, are the pre-war ‘Le Mans winning’ big Bentleys. Their direct reputation is continuing to be embellished by enthusiastic owners continuing to drive their cars literally around the world. They love coming to NZ and are a regular sight at my town’s yearly Art-Deco celebration, commemorating the 1931 earthquake and rebuild.
    This car is a British registered, Swiss owned, 1928 model, in Southland, NZ after having driven there on a tour of the entire country as part of a small convoy of similarly aged cars.
    What a great way to spend your retirement, driving around the world in an old Bentley. (Substantial finances required.)

  • Lokki

    I was lucky enough to actually get to see one of original 1930 Birkin bodied Blower Bentleys at an event I attended.

    Even standing still it looks like a locomotive flat out.. but ala The Blue Train, we know it is actually faster than a speeding locomotive and that’s a proven fact.

    Glad to see Bentley reviving that heritage.