On the eve of its return to international motorsport competition, Bentley has revealed hopes of racing its new Continental GT3 in North America next year.
The British manufacturer, which will debut its new V8-powered beast in Friday’s Gulf 12 Hours, confirmed that it is evaluating a works-supported program for either the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship or Pirelli World Challenge, which could begin as early as the second half of 2014.
“We are certainly looking at America and looking at the developments with the United SportsCar [Championship],” said Brian Gush, Bentley Motors director of motorsport. “But it is far from clear as to what the series is, so we’d like to enter in America as soon as we understand.
“We’ve also had a look at the Pirelli World Challenge, which is interesting because a GT3 car goes into the PWC unchanged. Because of the options, we’re talking to several teams.”
Bentley Motorsport project manager John Wickham said they’ve been in discussions with “five to six strong teams” for the semi-works program, which would be similar to M-Sport’s involvement in the Blancpain Endurance Series next year.
Customer cars would also be made available, although no firm decision has been made yet to green-light a U.S. program.
“It’s just timing for us to see what the best option and to build the cars to the necessary spec,” Wickham said. “If we go GTD, we’d have some aero changes to make and probably some changes to the engine spec.
“We’d need to understand those before we commit. At the moment, we’re looking to perhaps race later in 2014 in the States but certainly not from the beginning.”
Between six to eight Continental GT3s will be made available to customers for the start of the 2014 season in Europe, with up to 15 of the cars being built by the end of next year.
In addition to the potential American market, Gush said they are in discussions with prospective teams for the Asian Le Mans Series, British GT Championship and GT Asia for 2014, while there is also interest to have the car in the ADAC GT Masters.
World Rally Championship outfit M-Sport, which has been tasked with the assembly of the Bentleys at its U.K. base, will also run two cars in the Blancpain Endurance Series as a factory supported effort.
“America is the biggest market and at the end of the day, it’s where Bentley needs to be,” said Guy Smith, who will team with Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane for the car’s debut this week in Abu Dhabi.
“The main thing is to get the work done here and make sure it’s up to speed [in Europe] before it goes to America. Hopefully we’ll see it in the States at some point next year.”