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Bentley Undecided On Full IGTC Campaign
- Updated: February 9, 2017
Bentley could undertake a full-season program in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, although a final decision on its participation in the Sepang 12 Hours has not yet been made, according to motorsports boss Brian Gush.
The British manufacturer, which took part in its third consecutive Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour last weekend, could be represented in the U.S. and Asian rounds by Absolute Racing, despite no firm commitment at this time.
Gush, however, admitted their desire to return to Mt. Panorama was not solely for Stephane Ratel’s manufacturer-based championship, which is now in its second year.
“We came to Bathurst for Bathurst,” Gush told Sportscar365. “Whether we continue [after Spa] really depends on how the American team does. We probably wouldn’t fly cars across to America.
“The ideal thing would be for Absolute to run those cars but they’re still trying to put their [Pirelli World Challenge] program together.
“If it works out and Absolute can prepare the cars for us, we can mix and match drivers and Laguna [Seca] would be on the cards.”
As for Sepang, Gush admitted it could be a more difficult situation.
Bentley opted not to take part in last year’s season finale, despite heading into the weekend as the championship leaders, due to what Gush said was an event that delivered very little return on investment.
The manufacturer struggled at Sepang in 2015, in a race that saw a nearly three hours of red flag time due to torrential rain.
“In Sepang, you know there’s going to be a red flag, it’s the wrong time of the year, there’s no spectators, no coverage, no way to activate it. We had a [hospitality] box [in 2015] and there was nobody in it,” he said.
“It’s a really difficult thing. We were in the [championship] lead this year but things were not right to go across the world. At the end of the day, this is a business and [about] promoting the brand.”
Gush said a decision on its participation in Sepang will be made following the 24 Hours of Spa, where M-Sport will again represent the brand with two factory entries.
It will feature a revised lineup in the No. 7 car, with ex Audi LMP1 driver Oliver Jarvis joining fellow Brits Guy Smith and Steven Kane for the five-round Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and Vincent Abril moving over to the No. 8 car alongside Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet.
Abril, however, will still drive the No. 7 Bentley in the Sprint Cup rounds with Kane, due to what Gush said was a previous agreement on that lineup prior to Jarvis’ addition to the team.
Gush also confirmed that Bentley Team Abt will be taking a step back from the ADAC GT Masters, likely only entering one or two rounds of the German championship, with an increased focus on the Nürburgring 24 and VLN races.