Bentley Team M-Sport could focus its efforts on Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli next year, leaving GT World Challenge Europe to customer teams, according to the manufacturer’s head of motorsport Paul Williams.
While having run as factory operation in the Blancpain GT Series with M-Sport since the program’s formation in 2014, Williams has hinted at a shakeup to its program that could see the Malcom Wilson-owned team take a step back in European competition.
“We haven’t finalized it yet,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s one of the options.
“The principle is the same. I want to do more with customer teams and less with the works team.
“For me, it is ideal if we can have the works team in the top series, which is Intercontinental, and the customer teams in the rest.
“But as I said, we haven’t finalized it yet, and we’re right in the thick of that at the moment.”
Sportscar365 understands that both K-PAX Racing and French GT4 entrant CMR are among the leading customer teams that could field Bentley Continental GT3s in World Challenge Europe next year, although both have yet to be finalized.
Should a deal materialize for K-PAX, it would mark the team’s departure from GT World Challenge America following a challenging season in SRO Motorsports America competition that was marred by controversial officiating calls.
When asked by Sportscar365 on the team’s 2020 plans, K-PAX program manager Darren Law stressed that a decision has not yet been made.
The development comes in the wake of the elimination of the GT3 Pro class in America, which K-PAX has been a longtime participant in.
“We’re evaluating lots of options,” Law told Sportscar365. “We’ve got a lot of things to sort out and go through. It’s not decided yet.”
While Williams would not confirm any specific negotiations with teams, he said they would welcome a team of the caliber of K-PAX stepping up to European competition.
“I think anybody who does well in these types of series… there’s definitely a perception that the endurance series in Europe is the next step on the ladder,” he said.
“It would be nice if they did it. But it’s a hard thing to do for a team from [America].”
He suggested that Bentley’s 2020 program is still “a couple of weeks away” from being confirmed.
“Now that Tom [Hodgson] is responsible for customer racing, we’ve got a lot more interest than before,” Williams said.
“Putting some time into customer racing is bearing fruit. But again, we don’t want to just flog a car to anybody.”
Williams said he would ideally like to have two pro cars in Endurance Cup next year, along with a Silver Cup entry and a “couple” of Ams.
While there’s also been interest in GT World Challenge Europe Sprint, Williams said the championship is not as important to Bentley as the Endurance Cup.
“I’ve got a customer who’s interested in running in the [Sprint] series,” he said. “We’re offering some lease deals on cars now which makes more people interested if they don’t want to buy a car.”
While not yet officially confirmed, Williams said it’s Bentley’s plan to continue in IGTC next year.