Last week DSC spoke to Brian Gush, who until the conclusion of the Spa 24 Hours on the weekend was the head of Bentley Motorsport.
His tenure at Bentley was a long one and includes many memorable moments, including, of course, the overall win at Le Mans back in 2003.
To get some thoughts and insight into his time with the world-famous brand, and what legacy he hopes to leave behind upon retiring, DSC’s editor Graham Goodwin sat down with him:
Brian, the result here at Spa is probably not the way you wanted this to finish in your last race at the helm of Bentley Motorsport?
“No, definitely not, we were looking to give Bentley a real headline for the centenary.”
But it’s been a bit of a ride for you with the brand, bringing Bentley back into international motorsport and being in charge ever since?
“It’s been 20 years. So there’s been some soaring highs and some very good days and some disappointments along the way. Yeah.
“The Le Mans chapter was obviously a great success we got a lot from that and it was very good.
“The GT chapter has also been successful, you can’t let one race results spoil the rest of it.
“We had a really good Generation 1 Continental GT3. The Generation 2 car is also really good and is winning in America and has won in Europe. I’m just disappointed that we weren’t given a fairer BoP here to fight to the front.
“It’s just not understandable (in a BoP formula) that you don’t get any of our four Bentley’s into the Super Pole. Why change the BoP from Paul Ricard?”
It didn’t go right. First off, something went horribly wrong for Callum MacLeod and that’s a car that I know you had high hopes for with three very quick young drivers?
“All four cars were really carefully picked to have a chance of victory. Yeah, that was an oil pressure issue. So that’s got nothing to do with BoP.
“Car #108 had a transmission issue, nothing to do with BoP. And car #107 had accident damage on the front left, also nothing to do with BoP. So that’s the bad luck part of it.
“But car #110 hasn’t had one thing go wrong with it. That’s been running like clockwork, from the beginning. But that’s the pace we have here. That’s where we’ve been pulled back to. And that’s what I am saying isn’t quite there.”
You’ve been the man at the helm of the entire modern era of an amazing brand with real racing history. What would you like to see next for your successor?
“Well, I think I’m leaving GT3 in rude health. The programme is good. The programme is healthy. GT3 is a good programme for Bentley.
“As for other areas, we are obviously interested in the development that the ACO and the FIA are proposing (Hypercar). I’m not sure that there’s something immediately there available for us, but we’re looking at it with interest. But at the moment, we’re concentrating on GT3.”
There were some reports that there was an immediate prospect of at least a conversation at board level about Hypercar?
“The way the ACO and FIA have framed hypercar, it’s got to be a road-going car of some description, we don’t have such a car, and you know how long that takes and how much it costs. So unless you’ve got a hypercar in the pipeline, that’s quite a few years away.
“So these are regulations that have some way to go yet before we can seriously consider it. Let’s see how they develop.
“If you don’t have a hypercar in the pipeline or in production, then you can only go the LMP1 route. To do that we need to see how the regulations develop, in particular with regards to quite an ambitious cost target. Let’s see if they can keep within that.”
As you sit there in retirement, I have no doubt with an active interest and not the rocking chair and tartan blanket, where else would you like to see this brand racing?
“Well, what I’ve always been clear about is that we are Bentley.
“Right from the beginning, the brand has not only been active in racing, but that’s also where they made their reputation in endurance, with reliability racing. But also record attempts, that was a big thing too for the brand.
“That’s what inspired me to do high-speed records. Those two ice speed records in 2007 and 2011. I’m quite proud of those as well. And the Pikes Peak records too in production cars.
“These are things that ‘Bentley Boys’ did and as I’m only the second-ever motorsport director of Bentley I felt that there was a tradition to keep up and I think these are the things that my successors should look at for the future too.”
Brian, we wish you well for a long and happy retirement…