The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, designed and built to compete for the Time Attack 1 record at this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, will be the first competition Bentley to run on renewable fuel, ahead of a goal to offer sustainable fuels to Bentley’s customers around the world.
The modified Continental GT3 racer, based on Bentley’s race- and championship-winning car, will power its way through the 20km course running on a biofuel-based petrol.
Various blends of fuels are being tested and evaluated, with possible Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions of up to 85 per cent over standard fossil fuel.
This first step marks the start of a longer programme that will investigate both biofuels and e-fuels for their potential to power the Bentleys of past and present in a sustainable way.
Bentley’s ambitious Beyond100 programme will see the brand become the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company, with the entire Bentley model range offered with Hybrid variants by 2023 ahead of Bentley being BEV-only by 2030.
The adoption of renewable fuel for this project signals the start of a long-term ambition for Bentley, initiating a research and development programme that aims to offer renewable fuels to Bentley customers in parallel to Bentley’s electrification programme. This two-prong strategy is set to maximise the pace of Bentley’s progress towards outright carbon neutrality, as part of its Beyond100 journey.
Combustion-engine Bentleys will still be produced for the next nine years – and Bentley’s new project aims to make those cars as sustainable as possible through the use of innovative fuel technologies.
Bentley’s pinnacle Pikes Peak project is being run in conjunction with British Continental GT3 customer team Fastr, who have successfully campaigned their Bentley race car in time attack competitions across the country.
Bentley has once again turned to three-time Pikes Peak champion and former “King of the Mountain’ Rhys Millen (NZ) – who holds individual class records. It was with Millen that Bentley captured its two existing Pikes Peak records – the Production SUV record attained in 2018 with a Bentayga W12, and the outright Production Car record scored in 2019 with a Continental GT.
With the start line at 9,300 ft, the course climbs to 14,100 ft - where the air is 1/3 less dense than at sea level. This environment means that the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak features modifications both to its aerodynamics package and its engine, turning it into the most extreme iteration of a Continental GT – or indeed any Bentley road car – ever.
The biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley dominates the rear of the car, sitting above a highly efficient rear diffuser that surrounds the transaxle gearbox. This rear aerodynamic package is balanced by a two-plane splitter at the front, flanked by separate dive planes.
The engine is Bentley’s proven racing power unit, developed from the 4.0-litre turbo V8 fitted to the Continental GT V8. For the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, engine modifications together with the use of carefully selected biofuel will ensure the engine develops significant horsepower despite the rarefied conditions it will operate in. Short side-exit exhausts will ensure the car sounds as dramatic as it looks.
Further modifications include cooling air scoops in place of the rear windows, and the obligatory stopwatch mounted to the roll cage next to the steering wheel, to allow Rhys Millen to keep track of his sector times up the mountain.
The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak now enters a major test and development phase, based initially in the UK before being shipped to the USA for altitude testing. An update on the progress of the car will be issued in May, ahead of the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 27. More technical details about the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak would be released in due course.