Bentley confident ahead of Suzuka Challenge
The Suzuka 10 Hours (23-25 August, 2019) should see Bentley Motorsport mount a serious challenge for victory, according to new Bentley Director of Motorsport, Paul Williams.
Two Bentley Continental GT3s will take on the challenging circuit located on the East coast of Japan, famous for its sequences of high-speed corners and ‘figure of eight’ layout, in the fourth round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Paul Williams, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, commented: “There’s a lot to learn for me personally in my first race in charge, but I feel my experience as part of the Bentley team will go a long way. I can’t wait to get stuck in, we have a great car and a strong team and will be competing for the podium.”
Bentley’s two Continental GT3 racers will feature the same gold livery first seen at the 24 Hours of Spa last month, celebrating the brand’s 100th anniversary.
After competing as a works team driver for the first time at the 24 Hours of Spa, Seb Morris (GB) has retained his place in the factory team and will pilot the number 108 car alongside established Bentley Boy Andy Soucek (ES). British racing driver, Alex Buncombe, will stand in for Maxime Soulet. Belgian Soulet has opted to sit out the fourth round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge as he and his partner prepare for the imminent arrival of their first child, whose due date is very soon. Buncombe is familiar with Bentley Motorsport, having raced three times for the brand already this year.
The number 107 line-up remains as it has throughout the brand’s centenary year, with Steven Kane (GB), Jordan Pepper (ZA) and Jules Gounon (FR) hoping to replicate their triumph at Paul Ricard, where the trio took a dominant victory two months ago.
On his return to a factory seat, Seb Morris said: “I’m incredibly grateful to Bentley for this opportunity. I’ve never been to Suzuka, so it’s a real boost that the team trusts my abilities to be able to go there and do the best job. Having worked with Bentley through its customer team programme for over four years now, I feel very comfortable in the Bentley environment and ready to perform.”
“The Continental GT3 produces great downforce and performs well in high-speed corners, and I fully expect to be competing for top spot here.”
Steven Kane added: “Suzuka has its own set of challenges for us; the humidity in Japan is really high so that’s a challenge for the team and the drivers alike. We’ve made advances this year in getting better airflow into the cockpit, though.
“The track is a lot tighter than people would imagine from seeing it on TV in F1. It’s quite old-school in that there’s not a lot of run-off and massive kerbs. In Europe, regulations mean that you don’t get those big kerbs on tracks anymore, but there’s a technique to hitting them right and using them to your advantage without damaging the car.”
Car number 107: Steven Kane (GBR), Jules Gounon (FRA) and Jordan Pepper (ZAF)
Car number 108: Alex Buncombe (GBR), Andy Soucek (ESP) and Seb Morris (GBR)
The third round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the Suzuka 10 Hours, takes place on Sunday 25 August at the Suzuka International Racing Course. Follow the action on Twitter using @BentleyRacing and on Instagram using @BentleyRacingOfficial.