Bentley’s Director of Motorsport Brian Gush has clarified the manufacturer’s potential Prototype direction in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, revealing it would be based off the new-for-2017 LMP2 platform should it get the green light.
In an exclusive interview with Sportscar365 last week, Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer said Bentley was evaluating a Daytona Prototype program, sparking questions over the lifespan of the current-generation, tube-framed cars.
“When we talk about Daytona Prototypes, you’ve got to say, current or future?” Gush told Sportscar365. “The current Daytona Prototypes are on a run-out.”
Instead, Gush said Bentley is instead evaluating a new-generation “DP”, known by many as IMSA’s planned LMP2-based platform that will feature manufacturer-specific engines and bodywork with styling cues.
If the program does materialize, Gush said it would be run as a full-fledged factory effort.
“We’re watching with interest on how the regulations develop,” he said. “The regulations are only still coming out and being stabilized. At Le Mans, they’ll announce it more.
“We’re looking at it as a possibility for us. There’s no possibility really to go to P1 because of the bigger budgets. If you want to do WEC, you’d have to do P1.
“If you did [Prototype in the TUDOR Championship], you’d put the OEM engine it and style the bodywork so it had some product DNA or similarities.”
Gush said Bentley’s current Continental GT3 program hits the right demographic thanks to its street-to-track relevance, something IMSA’s new Prototype plan could also deliver, but to a lesser degree.
“We’re here to sell cars and build a brand image,” he said. “What we’re doing today, we’re building the image of Bentley as a sporting brand, appealing to a young audience who are sport-minded.
“GT3 does that exactly that for us because you see the car on the track and parked in the paddock as a road car.
“You’d have to get a quite distinct link between the brand and whatever you did to make sure you maximized the brand’s visibility on track.”
That could include the use of its existing 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, should it meet IMSA’s performance parameters.
“In restricted form, we get 600 horsepower and we rev it to just over 7,000 [rpm],” Gush said. “If that worked in a DP of the future, it would be the logical choice because it’s an engine that comes out of our road car.
“The more links you can have with the road car development program, the better.”
With an engine program and bodywork package not being as intensive as a ground-up design of an entire car, Gush said they have some time to make a final decision on whether to move ahead with the project.
However, he hasn’t ruled out seeing a Continental GT3 in the GT Le Mans class of the TUDOR Championship next year, but said it wouldn’t be as a factory effort.
As also documented by Sportscar365, such an initiative would see the car being homologated for IMSA GTLM competition only.
According to Gush that would require a number of waivers, including some for the car’s suspension components.
“If there’s enough customers interested, we’d think about it,” he said. “But since we wouldn’t be going for overall wins, the factory would not be interested in it.”