While currently achieving success around the globe with its Continental GT3, Bentley is targeting a re-entry into prototype racing, with a focus on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Speaking to Sportscar365, Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer revealed the British manufacturer is monitoring developments in the new-for-2017 Prototype class, with an eye towards building a program that would compete for overall wins in North America.
“It’s our philosophy at Bentley Motors to race where we can win overall,” Durheimer told Sportscar365 in an exclusive interview Saturday at the Nürburgring.
“The United States is our single biggest market, so I would really like to see our cars racing in the U.S., not only in Pirelli World Challenge but also in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.”
Bentley re-entered U.S. racing in 2014 with Dyson Racing-run Continental GT3s in World Challenge, with the factory supported team stepping up to a two-car program in the sprint race championship this year.
While it’s understood Bentley is pursuing IMSA homologation for the Continental GT3 to be eligible in the GT Le Mans class next year, Durheimer has set his sights on the Prototype category as his long-term target.
Should the green light be given, it would mark Bentley’s first prototype program since the Speed 8, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003.
“With this, we’d race the entire United SportsCar Championship and we could compete [for the overall win] in the Daytona 24,” he said.
Durheimer confirmed Bentley attended the recent LMP2 manufacturers meeting at Daytona, and despite new LMP2-based regulations set to launch in 2017, he admitted a Daytona Prototype-based car appeals the most to the brand.
“The format of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is [currently] Daytona Prototype and P2 cars. And for us, a Daytona Prototype could be an interesting subject,” he said.
“It’s not decided yet on what will come in Daytona. My personal reading of the subject is that Daytona Prototypes will not die out. They will exist alongside the P2 class.
“We have a very competitive V8 engine that’s in [the Continental GT3], so we would need to do a chassis and a body.”
He said M-Sport, which built and developed the Continental GT3, would be in charge of any additional motorsports activities for the manufacturer.
With the U.S. being Bentley’s largest market, Durheimer stressed the importance of having a strong motorsports presence, although its expansion will likely come in stages over the coming years.
“For the time being, we’re dedicating all of our racing activities to the GT program, to establish this massively and to underline that we are a winner and that we are competitive and we take it seriously,” he said. “Once this is done we can at other things.”