The time had come for Bentley to send its Continental Pikes Peak contender up the hill for a triumphant hatrick of records at the world famous hillclimb. Unfortunately, for Bentley, poor weather conditions and technical issues meant it wasn’t meant to be, leaving the record untouched, even if it wasn’t exactly the fault of Bentley’s tireless efforts.
As is often the case with Pikes Peak, adverse weather conditions at the summit shortened the course, meaning it finished at 12,780ft as opposed to 14,115 – this meant that the record Bentley set out to break was no longer on the cards in the first place. Yet boost pressure problems towards the end of the hill climb also halted Bentley’s success against rival contenders. Despite Rhys Millen’s impressive 6:36.281 run, Bentley’s car fell 16 seconds behind the leader for the Time Attack 1 class. Still, this time did make the Continental Pikes Peak the fastest machine running on sustainable fuels, and put it fourth overall.
Director of Motorsport, Paul Williams, said: ‘We know we had the pace today both to win our class, and to break the Time Attack 1 record. The weather sadly wasn’t with us though, with the shortened course meaning our assault on the record was never a possibility. While that’s a bitter pill to swallow, I’m proud to have entered such a strong renewably-powered race car – the fastest at the event – and equally proud of the team that’s delivered this project.’
The Continental itself is a bespoke competition car based on the Continental GT3 racer, with changes both to the aero package and under the skin. Under the carbon bonnet is a similar V8 engine to the GT3 racer, now producing peak figures of 560kW and 1000Nm at sea level, with higher power available to combat the thin air at the Peak’s higher altitudes. It’s also been modified to run on biofuel, and remapped to allow for a peak 2.2bar of pressure for the new turbochargers. To combat the extra boost, Bentley’s also fitted new pistons and conrods, as well as a thicker carbonfibre intake manifold to handle the higher pressures. Short side-exit exhausts, rear window air scoops and a roll cage-mounted stopwatch are also new additions.
Bentley’s standard Continental GT3 has received other radical modifications in order to stand up to the harsh environment of the hillclimb. Developed in conjunction with Derbyshire-based racing team Fastr and M-Sport, the new package is focused on squeezing as much performance as possible from the powertrain and aero to suit the Peak’s unique terrain and conditions.
Both its aerodynamic package and intake systems have undergone substantial modifications to suit, including the fitment of the largest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley. This is complemented by a new diffuser and an aggressive two-plane front splitter with separate dive planes. This has resulted in a 30 percent increase in total downforce, compared to the standard GT3 car.