On the eve of Bentley’s third attempt at the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the British manufacturer is more confident than ever for a solid result, according to Andy Soucek.
While the No. 7 Bentley Continental GT3 usually had the upper hand on the sister No. 8 car, things have been going the other way around lately in the Blancpain GT Series.
Soucek and Maxime Soulet, joined by Wolfgang Reip in the Endurance Cup races, have been on the podium three times so far, while Vincent Abril, Steven Kane and Guy Smith have encountered issues.
“I think we were as quick as the No. 7 car before, but maybe the luck wasn’t really on our side,” Soucek told Sportscar365.
“Each season is a different story and this year everything is going a little bit better.”
Bentley is coming off a strong performance at Paul Ricard, leading the race early on with both cars.
As the No. 7 lost ground with ABS issues, the No. 8 Continental GT3 continued to lead until a refueling fire demoted Soucek, Soulet and Reip to third at the checkered flag.
“It could have even been better, but three podiums is not too bad,” Soucek said. “We’re looking to having a strong performance here at Spa.
“It’s difficult to say we are the fastest, but I definitely think we are one of the strongest.
“For Spa, some of the other manufacturers sometimes show a bit more potential than they had before. It’s only in the race that everything will be become clear.”
The Spaniard made no secret of the Continental GT3’s struggles in the rain, and with Spa being known for its changing conditions, the weather might very well play an important role in the outcome for the British manufacturer.
“The Bentley is definitely weaker in the wet,” Soucek said. “It’s a lot better in the dry, so hopefully it stays dry.”
After coming up short the past two years and finishing runner-up in the teams’ championship twice, Soucek reckons Bentley is now better prepared than ever to conquer Spa.
“The third time is usually the time it needs to happen, just look at Marc VDS,” he said. “It took them so many years to finally get the victory.
“We are coming with a really good background. The team is on it and the cars have been rebuild from the ground up since the last race.”
Soulet and Reip both being local drivers is also an added bonus, according to Soucek.
Bentley is looking to break the recent dominance of German manufacturers, as the last non-German GT3 car to win a major 24-hour race being the Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2015.
“Some change would be good,” Soucek said. “Mercedes and Audi dominated the last few years. Now BMW has a new car and I believe they will be strong too.
“We are one of those cars everyone is looking at. A lot of people are pointing at us as one of the favorites cars.
“Personally I would pick one of the WRT or Phoenix Audis as the favorites, but I can see like ten cars capable of winning here.
“McLaren hasn’t been very reliable in the past few years, but now with the 650S GT3 it looks like the car working well. They are leading the championship so you have to keep an eye on them as well.”