Good news: Bentley is returning to racing next year. Barring a brief flirtation with ice racing, it’ll mark the brand’s first foray into the realm of motorsports since it won Le Mans in 2003 – but instead of fielding a new prototype racer, Bentley plans on racing with something very close to this Continental GT3 concept.
Based on the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed, the GT3 was allegedly “tailored for race specification.” That’s a bit vague, though we do know the GT3 ditches the stock all-wheel-drive system in favor of rear-wheel-drive, and adopts an audacious aerodynamic package. Thanks to deep air dams, large rocker extensions, and a huge rear wing, the GT3 looks like a cartoonish interpretation of the regular Continental GT coupe. Gaping vents in the hood and behind both front and rear fenders help to extract heat and, while giving the GT3 a wide, aggressive stance.
"The Continental GT3 is set to show the world what the Continental GT is capable of in its most extreme form, and establishes a solid foundation for Bentley's long-term motorsports plans," Bentley chairman and CEO Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber said in a prepared statement.
Bentley has yet to detail any of powertrain modifications for the GT3, but for reference, the stock Continental GT Speed mates an utilizes a 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W-12 that’s good for 616 hp, 590 lb-ft of torque, and a 250-mph top speed.
The new Continental GT3 concept has already been approved by the FIA for race use and Bentley plans on spending the next few months to complete its shakedown of the racer. The automaker currently plans to return to racing toward the end of 2013, and says the GT3 will be eligible for numerous events including 24-hour endurance races. Could the GT3 signal a return of Bentley to the Le Mans podium? Only time will tell.