Bentley is ramping up delivery plans for its new-generation Continental GT3, with timelines established for the handoff of cars to both Phoenix Racing Asia and K-PAX Racing later this year.
The British manufacturer, which debuted its 2018-spec car in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with the factory M-Sport squad, is set to utilize the upcoming Intercontinental GT Challenge rounds as part of the transfer process to its customers.
Bentley’s first two new race chassis, which contested the opening three Endurance Cup races of the season, are now en route to Japan for the Suzuka 10 Hours, with the cars that M-Sport campaigned in last weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa set to be sea-freighted to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the California 8 Hours.
While M-Sport will run the cars in the IGTC rounds, Bentley Motorsport director Brian Gush explained both races will provide opportunities to work alongside its customers with its designated chassis prior to delivery.
“Phoenix Racing Asia is going to work with us at Suzuka and take the cars from there. We’ll rebuild them completely and hand them over,” Gush told Sportscar365.
“It makes a lot of sense, logistically, from all the spares and costs. They’ll build the cars up together with our guys after the race.
“We’re doing the same thing with K-PAX at Laguna. K-PAX will work with us, and we’ll stay on and rebuild the cars with them, and then those cars stay in America and the spares stay there as well.”
Gush said two further new-gen Bentleys are being built up for the Endurance Cup finale at Barcelona, which will then be sent to Australia for the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge season-opener in Bathurst.
Additional cars are also being built up at M-Sport’s base in Cumbria for deliveries through the winter months, according to Gush, who said they’re already “close” to to hitting the minimum production run of ten cars that’s now required for each GT3 manufacturer in the car’s first year of homologation.
“We’ve got a number of people very interested in them,” he said.
“The build is continuing and at the moment we’ve got people interested in cars that are yet to be built. We’re quite pleased with the reception it’s had so far.”
Gush said the FIA’s new requirement, which additionally requires a minimum run of 20 cars in the first 24 months, has put additional pressures on low-volume GT3 manufacturers such as Bentley.
“We were not in favor of that because we think it’s difficult and Stephane [Ratel] believes the GT3 market has a lot of potential in America but we didn’t need that extra pressure to build the cars,” Gush said.
“Hopefully, things go well. At the moment with what we’ve built, for the first year it’s OK. Second year, there’s some interest.”
Parker “Very Close” to Customer Deal
Team Parker Racing is also set to run the new-gen Bentley next year, with the British outfit likely to sign a deal, according to team principal Stuart Parker.
“We’re very close,” he told Sportscar365. “We just met with Bentley [on Thursday] actually.
“It’s getting there. We’ve just got to iron out the last few bits and hopefully it will all go through.”
Parker said the team plans to run one or two cars in the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup, including one possible Pro Cup car, along with a British GT Championship entry.
He also said they plan to keep a similar driver lineup “structure” as currently, without bringing any Bentley factory drivers on board but instead using younger drivers such as Seb Morris and Callum Macleod.
“It’s nice to have the underdog and the young chargers that you take to battle with you, rather than the known quantity who probably really doesn’t want to be there,” Parker said.
Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report.