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A year in Motorsport with the Bentley Continental GT3

Having completed the five rounds of the Blancpain Endurance Series in Europe, and the second half of the Pirelli World Challenge in the U.S.A. in preparation for a full series next year, the Continental GT3 has scored victories on two continents and finished a championship in second place. 

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The European season started at Monza

...where the car proved itself to be a fast and durable competitor from the outset. Car #8 drove a superb race to finish 6th while the #7 car came 8th in the Continental GT3s first competition race outing.

Improvements were demonstrated at the second round, at the home of British motorsport, Silverstone. After an enthralling three hour battle, Bentley Boy Steven Kane took the chequered flag in car #7, capturing the car's first win in only its second full competition race. Steven, together with teammates Guy Smith and Andy Meyrick, celebrated Bentley's first race victory since the famous win at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003.

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Paul Ricard and a return to North America

The team continued their form in impressive style at the next event, the evening race at Paul Ricard. After another gruelling contest, the #7 Continental GT3 scored its second victory in a row, and M-Sport Bentley left France sitting at the top of both Drivers and Teams Endurance Pro Championships.

Meanwhile, in North America, Dyson Racing Team Bentley had taken delivery of the first of two Continental GT3s. Using the second half of the Pirelli World Challenge series to prepare both team and car for 2015, Bentley Boy Butch Leitzinger finished 6th at Road America, the team’s first race.
 

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Spa 24Hrs and Utah

In Belgium in July, the Continental GT3 faced its toughest test yet: the Spa 24 Hours. In the first two hours, the #8 car suffered suspension damage after being hit by a competitor, while car #7 sustained damage to a brake line after running over debris from incidents between other cars. After repairs to both cars, the fight back through the order began from 55th and 50th positions respectively. Only then was the real pace of the car obvious, as by the end of the race both cars had climbed to finish in the top 20, with car #7 9th in class and so scoring vital championship points. The #8 car also finished strongly.

In the finale of the Pirelli World Challenge. Dyson Racing Team Bentley ran two cars, the second piloted by Guy Smith. Butch Leitzinger had scored the team's first podium at Sonoma in August, while the car recorded fastest laps and broken track records. The final round at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah proved to be the highlight though, as Guy Smith steered his Continental GT3 to victory in the 50-minute sprint race, joined on the podium by Butch in 3rd. This win was Bentley's first ever outside Europe, and will undoubtedly be the platform on which to build a strong campaign in the U.S.A. for 2015.
 

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Closing the season in grand style

Bentley finished the Blancpain Endurance season with the iRacing.com Nürburgring 1000 km. Atrocious weather conditions made for a very difficult first four hours of the race for both Bentleys, but as their competitors faltered, it became clear that a 5th-in-class finish for car #7 would secure the runners-up spot in both championships. With 20 minutes to go, Steven Kane mad the pass from 6th to 5th, and at the chequered flag the championship was decided. Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane finished as runners-up in the Pro Endurance Drivers Championship, while Bentley secured second place in the Teams Championship.

Bentley's Member of the Board for Engineering, Rolf Frech, comments:
"2014 has been a very good debut season for us. Bentley belongs in motorsport, and from the start of our programme two years ago, we knew the Continental GT had potential as a racer. That promise has been realised both in Europe and America this year, and in 2015 we look forward to racing on four Continents as customer teams start competing in the Middle East and Asia, and we have customer cars competing as far afield as China and New Zealand before Christmas. I'm proud of our programme and our victories and we're all looking forward to the new competitions that next year will bring."
 

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And on to 2015...

Bentley Motorsport now starts test and development programmes in preparation for 2015. During October of this year, Bentley starts Project NBR24 – a dedicated exercise of preparation and development work to allow Bentley Motorsport to enter the 2015 Nürburgring 24 Hours. Initially, this will involve entry in to two rounds of the VLN series in Germany, to develop both car and drivers in preparation for the 24-hour race. Meanwhile, Absolute Racing will be competing in the Shanghai and Macau rounds of GT Asia with a Continental GT3, starting next weekend.

Bentley Motorsport's complete 2015 schedule will be announced at the Autosport Show on 8th January. Meanwhile, watch Bentley's short documentary film of the team’s TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa race weekend above.
 

Read more about Bentley Motorsport here.