CMR and Bentley are “closer than ever before” despite the French squad taking on a more independent GT3 program this year after the British marque’s exit from the class.
Team principal Charly Bourachot told Sportscar365 that CMR’s team is relishing the chance to apply the learning points from its 2020 debut with the Bentley Continental GT3 during this year’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS series.
Bentley left GT3 at the end of last year, but its cars remain eligible and former works team operator M-Sport continues to produce and distribute parts for staying customers.
CMR is the sole Bentley entrant left in GTWC Europe after K-PAX Racing and Team Parker Racing switched to different series and manufacturers for the 2021 season.
Bourachot reckons that CMR’s spell working closely with Bentley Motorsport last year has put the team in a stronger place for its autonomous campaign with the Continental GT3.
“We are still following Bentley clearly and we are a big supporter of them,” he said.
“The biggest difference is now we are more alone and it’s easier for us. We did a big different choice by choosing other drivers. I am definitely happy with this choice.
“The first year showed us where we were and where we had to improve. I think we did a good job in the winter by choosing good engineers, mechanics and drivers. It’s a more CMR team.
“Last year it was not CMR: it was like an official team. Now everyone is closer.
“After one year we get a lot of information on the car and this winter improved some technical stuff. Each time we go on the track we know where the car will be.
“Perhaps we are not the best at doing pit stops, perhaps we can be a bit more fast, but we can’t complain this year.”
Part of the adjustment to a more independent setup has included the hiring of ex-Venturi and Abt Sportsline Formula E race engineer Chris de Coninck, who helped to assemble the team of mechanics and other technical staff over the winter.
Some of the CMR Bentley squad consists of personnel who previously worked on the team’s ongoing GT4 project.
Bourachot indicated that CMR wants to continue nurturing its relationship with Bentley despite the company stopping its factory funding of GT3 racing activities.
CMR, which stands for Classic and Modern Racing, is currently building a portfolio of vintage Bentley race cars in addition to its eligible Continental GT3 contenders.
The collection includes three first-gen Continentals, two previously run by the M-Sport factory team and one by K-PAX. It is also looking to obtain a Speed 8 Le Mans prototype.
“The relationship with Bentley is really good, they help us a lot,” said Bourachot.
“We do a lot of historical races and next week [at Dijon] we should have some really crazy old Bentley cars.
“We have decided to push outwards with Bentley, because we don’t know what the future will be. We prefer to stay not so far. We are closer than ever before and that’s a good thing.”
Target to Bring Bentley Back to Le Mans
When asked if CMR is positioning itself to align with resurfaced rumors of a Bentley LMDh program, Bourachot said: “Nothing to say. We will see.”
However, he suggested with greater input that the notion of GT3 potentially replacing the current GTE category in ACO competitions such as the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series is attractive to CMR.
CMR previously looked at entering Le Mans with a GTE-Pro Ferrari, but that short-term plan has been set aside.
“One of my targets is if we can go with GT3 at Le Mans, we would be really happy to go with the Bentley, for example,” said Bourachot.
“For the moment… it’s my idea. We have time to see what happens in the future months. Everything is complicated because a lot of things changed due to COVID, on the plans of all the manufacturers.
“A lot will spend a big amount of money on the new [Hypercar] category at Le Mans. I’m not sure there will be a lot of new GTs in the next years. We will see.
“The program is too early to decide, but the problem is that it’s tomorrow in fact. That is a complicated situation that everyone will be in [over] the next two years.”