Final preparations now complete for Continental GT3's 2014 season
Drivers, cars and team all ready for opening race at Monza, Italy
With a week to go until the start of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series, Team M-Sport Bentley is ready to take on the competition with the new Continental GT3. After months of development work, peaking with a satisfying 4th placed finished in the car’s test race at the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi last December, together with the announcement of six Bentley Boys, the team is confident of strong performance from the outset.
The Continental GT3’s first competitive race in the Blancpain Series will be at Monza, near Milan in Italy. After free practice and qualifying on Saturday, the three hour race takes place on Sunday 13th April at 14:45. The Bentley competitor is based on the acclaimed Continental GT V8 coupe road car, including its outstanding 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 engine.
Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, comments: “The race at Monza is what we’ve been working towards for the last year, and we’re ready for it. The car performed well at the series test days at Paul Ricard, we have a motivated driver line-up, and the whole team is eager to get started. We’re looking for a strong finish and get our season started as we intend to go on.”
M-Sport Bentley will field two cars throughout the season. Car 7 will be driven by the all-British driving team of former Bentley Le Mans champion Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane. Car 8 will be piloted by a European driver line-up of Belgian ex-F1 racer Jérôme D’Ambrosio, Englishman Duncan Tappy and Frenchman Antoine Leclerc. All six drivers have shown the right combination of experience, teamwork and speed to lead Bentley’s return to competitive racing since victory at Le Mans in 2003.
Steven Kane comments:
“We’ve all worked so hard to get here. While the engineers and mechanics have been preparing the cars, Guy, Andy and I have been training hard every day to ensure we’re in the best physical condition for what will be a gruelling set of races. I absolutely can’t wait for Monza and the start of our season.”
Joining M-Sport Bentley after time in Formula 1 with Virgin Racing and Lotus, Jérôme D’Ambrosio comments:
“I’ve been looking to make the switch to endurance racing for a while, and when the opportunity to race with such a famous marque as Bentley came up I knew it was right. I’ve been hugely impressed with the team and the cars – I was at the Bentley factory last week and the attention to detail on both the road cars and the race cars is amazing. I’m really looking forward to working with Duncan and Antoine to deliver a great season for the team.”
Impressive Turn of Speed Attracts New Sponsor
After such a strong showing in the car’s test race and again at the Blancpain Test Day at Paul Ricard, a new sponsor has joined the team. Six years ago, Bentley announced the forming of an exclusive partnership with high end British home audio manufacturer Naim, to introduce a market leading high end audio system exclusively for the Bentley model range. Now, Naim has extended its connection with the Bentley brand by sponsoring the race programme, with the Naim logo to appear both on the cars and the drivers’ race suits. Naim joins existing Continental GT3 partners Mobil 1 and Breitling, who have also signed up for the year.
Naim CEO Paul Stephenson comments:
“Sponsoring Bentley’s GT3 racing is a natural progression of our partnership. Their single-minded pursuit of pure performance is something which we can really identify with. As fellow champions of British engineering and design we are incredibly proud to be supporting Team M-Sport Bentley in what I’m sure will be a hugely successful first season.”
Read more about the Naim for Bentley audio system here.
Visit the Bentley Motorsport page to read more about Bentley's driving team and race schedule.
Follow the Continental GT3s racing at Monza on Sunday 13th April on Bentley's Twitter feeds @BentleyMotors and @BentleyComms. See images from the race and from Abu Dhabi on the Bentley Facebook page.