Securing additional customer teams has become an “absolute top priority” for Bentley according to its new director of motorsport Paul Williams.
The British manufacturer, which rolled out its second-generation Continental GT3 in 2018, has built on its customer base this year with the addition of JRM Racing, which is competing alongside Team Parker Racing in the British GT Championship.
A further two Bentleys, meanwhile, compete in Blancpain GT World Challenge America with K-PAX Racing, which gave the new-gen car its maiden victory earlier this year.
For Williams, who replaced the now-retired Brian Gush at the helm of Bentley Motorsport on Aug. 1, growing its customer base for 2020 and beyond has become one of his primary objectives.
“I think for me, it’s one of the things that’s really important in my first year in the role,” Williams told Sportscar365.
“We have to get more customer teams racing. There’s a lot of interest in the car.
“If you see some of the teams we’ve got, like K-PAX, it’s very clear the car is super competitive and with a good team it can be a great car.
“They’re running up front and are winning frequently. Teams like that are great; it’s part of the essence of GT3 racing.
“It’s one of my priorities for next year is to work with our customers that exist already.
“We’re talking to a number of people at the moment who are potential customers in the next weeks and see how it goes. But for me it’s an absolute top priority.”
A restructuring of Bentley’s motorsport department, which has seen longtime technical manager and race engineer Tom Hodgson become its new head of customer racing, has been part of the overhaul now under the direction of Williams.
He said it’s “difficult to say” on an actual target number of customer teams Bentley would like to have globally although have put an initial focus on the Asian market.
It comes after previous partnerships with Absolute Racing and Phoenix Racing Asia, the latter which has not continued into 2019 after a mid-season debut with the new-gen cars last year.
“The key thing at the moment is that we don’t have anyone running in Asia specifically,” Williams said. “That’s a thing we have to try and sort out.
“We’ve got quite a few customers running in British GT; I’d like to have at least one more customer running in Blancpain Endurance; that would be very good.
“The minimum is to get an Asian team going.
“The ideal situation is that we’re [in Suzuka] with one or two customer teams as well. In this race there’s a lot of OEM activity but it’s great to have customers getting involved.
“Now that the car is better, stable and competitive and you can see some of the customers doing well.
“We’ve made changes inside my team to help support the customer racing better and drive towards more customers.
“We’re doing it to try and create a situation where the customers get a higher level of support from the factory.”
K-PAX Success “Sparking Interest” in World Challenge America
Williams said K-PAX’s string of success has helped generate interest from other potential customers in North America.
The California-based team has claimed four victories this year between the pairings of Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek and Rodrigo Baptista and Maxime Soulet.
Williams indicated the majority of the interest has come from potential efforts in the SRO Motorsports America-run championship.
While having held discussions with IMSA, Williams said there are currently “no solid plans” to see the Continental GT3 in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at this time.