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Bentley Taking Driver Lineups “Race by Race”

British manufacturer may mix up IGTC, Blancpain GT Endurance Cup lineups…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Bentley

Bentley is taking a “race by race” approach to its driver lineups, which could feature further changes to its Blancpain GT Endurance Cup and Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli squads.

The British manufacturer, which featured a reshuffled lineup in its No. 108 Bentley Continental GT3 in last weekend’s California 8 Hours, looks set to continue with a rotation of drivers in at least one seat through the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

Lucas Ordonez and Markus Palttala, who are confirmed for Bentley’s expanded four-car Total 24 Hours of Spa effort, made their team debuts in the No. 108 car at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, filling the seat vacated by Vincent Abril but also displacing longtime driver Andy Soucek.

While Soucek remains a factory driver according to Bentley Motorsport director Brian Gush, a definitive lineup for the start of the Endurance Cup season has not been fully established.

“What we’re doing is using Markus and Lucas in the car and then we’ll have a look and see how they’re going,” Gush told Sportscar365 during last weekend’s IGTC round.

“It’s just a matter of getting people into the car and getting them time.

“Somebody needed to step aside. With Vince going, we thought if we’d do it with one, why not do it with two.”

Gush said a replacement for Abril will not be determined until after Spa, which will allow the team to give drivers from its third and fourth Spa-only entries additional experience and data prior to the Belgian enduro.

Bentley’s additional drivers for Spa include Alex Buncombe as well as Callum McLeod, Seb Morris and Rodrigo Baptista, who are understood to be in the mix for additional races with the factory squad.

“We may use Monza, Silverstone, Paul Ricard to get them in,” Gush said. “As you can imagine at Spa we’ll have a lot of data [to make a decision on]. We’re under no pressure right now.”

Gush has even indicated that M-Sport could feature split lineups between its Endurance Cup and IGTC campaigns this year, owing to the manufacturer-focused nature of the global GT3 championship.

“We could mix it up,” he said. “We’re going to take it race by race.

“I think we’re in a good position with good drivers. The question is whether we move them around or not.”

Bentley has had a challenging start to the IGTC season, with the second-generation Continental GT3 yet to score a top-five finish.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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