Bentley Motors CEO Wolfgang Durheimer confirmed on Radio Le Mans over the weekend that the Crewe based company were looking for an expansion of their current GT3 only motorsport programmes in North America.
Herr Durheimer chatted to John Hindhaugh, during the online station’s coverage of the Nurburgring 24 Hours, about the options to take forward Bentley’s programmes.
The marque currently contests the Pirelli World Challenge via a partnership with Dyson Racing but with IMSA due to adopt full GT3 regulations instead of their current GTD regs from next season, and with active consideration of an all gentleman driver GT3 sprint series alongside the Tudor United Sportscar Championship, there’s a moment to consider future direction.
“At present it is our objective to win overall victories. When there is potential for class wins of course we shouldn’t say no but we believe this is a role for our future customer teams.”
This statement is understood to apply not only to the GT3 cars but also to a option that the Continental GT3 might be adapted and re-homologated nationally in the USA as a GTLM contender.
“The Daytona Prototypes, as I analyse if for now, will live on. I think there will be a new pack of Daytona Prototypes in the future. I don’t think that the organisers are ready to drop this idea and for this reason this is my focus for the US programme.
To persuade IMSA to keep Daytona Prototypes and to open up the chassis regulations so that you can build a bespoke Bentley with that 4 litre engine?
“Yes we have the engine already and we have a powertrain for it (in the GT3 Continental) and of the rules are appropriate we are going to race in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship.
“We are in constant discussion with IMSA. I feel this idea has a future.”
(It should be remembered that it was Mr Durheimer, when responsible for motorsport strategy for the whole VAG group that suggested a similar DP-based programme might be possible for Audi!)
In sharp contrast to a bold statement on a potential future programme in North America, Mr Durheimer, whilst making clear that Bentley were keeping a watching brief on Le Mans, confirmedly that plans to return to the scene of the marque’s greatest sportswear racing triumphs “are not currently on the list.”
He made clear though that the marque is set to return to both the Nurburgring 24 Hours and Bathurst 12 Hours in 2016
There was one utterance though that looks set to disappoint the sportscar racing community. The dark green livery on the #85 Continental GT3 at the Nurburgring drew major praise and John Hindhaugh asked if there was any potential for the colour scheme to continue?
“I don’t think so. It’s a heritage livery, times move on, colours move on!” That’s a shame, here’s hoping that he can be persuaded to think again!
The full Nurburgring 24 Hours coverage is available to download from www.radiolemans.com with the interview with Herr Durheimer at the following link