French sports car team Classic and Modern Racing is targeting a GTE-Pro entry into next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a view to eventually bringing Bentley to the grid in GT3.
CMR became a Bentley customer this year and runs the British marque’s Continental GT3 cars in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup and Endurance Cup.
Its team principal Charly Bourachot has spoken of tentative plans to enter and run a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in next year’s Le Mans to give CMR experience in the race before mounting a challenge with its long-term Bentley venture.
The latter part of the plan would rely on GT3 cars becoming eligible at Le Mans, which currently only permits GTE machinery in addition to the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes.
However, the idea of GT3 superseding GTE has gained backing in recent months, while Bentley’s director of motorsport Paul Williams has been supportive of the notion.
CMR operated GT3-class Ferraris in the 2016 GTWC Europe Endurance Cup season before establishing a successful GT4 program with Alpine.
The team took on two new programs for the 2020 season, running Bentleys in GTWC Europe and the new Toyota GR Supra GT4 in European and French competitions.
“We are really happy to be here [in GTWC Europe] and GT3 has really been a huge target for me,” Bourachot told Sportscar365.
“I wish to say that we will win some races in GT3 and perhaps a championship one day.
“After several targets, we will go to Le Mans. Perhaps we can do Le Mans next year in GTE-Pro. We will see because it’s always complicated.
“I aim to prepare for when GT3 will be at Le Mans. Of course my wish is to go with Bentley to Le Mans. It could be a big story but it would be an Everest [mission].
“I think we will go next year with a Ferrari, because we have the car and partners, and the budget exists so we can go. The question is more a question of entry, if we can have the entry or not.”
Bourachot suggested that he would not be interested in signing CMR up for a season in the Asian Le Mans Series next January, which offers the fastest route for a new team to obtain an automatic invitation for Le Mans in 2021.
“I don’t want to do this,” he said. “The question is more that it’s quite complicated for Le Mans to complete the grid and I think it will be the same next year. To be in GTE-Pro, there are not a lot of cars, and I think it’s perhaps more possible, but we will see.
“Our target is of course to go to Le Mans, and our second target is to perhaps take experience the year after with Bentley. It would be really incredible.
“More and more people speak about [GT3 becoming the top GT class] so I wish. It is evident that it should be and I hope that it will be.”
Bentley has not been represented in the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2003 when the company won the race outright with its Speed 8 LM-GTP prototype.
However, Bentley-affiliated drivers have since contested the race with other teams.
The grid for this weekend’s edition includes current factory driver and CMR Sprint Cup competitor Jules Gounon, who is driving a Ferrari in GTE-Pro for Risi Competizione.
There was also a Continental GT3 on the grid for last year’s Road to Le Mans support races, driven by South African Greg Mills and 1988 Le Mans winner Jan Lammers.