In the wake of the announcement today of up to 1000 job cuts at the Bentley factory at Crewe, Bentley Motorsport has announced changes to its 2020 GT racing activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, scaling back its factory commitments to focus on customer teams. The Crewe-based operation is to stand down Bentley Team M-Sport from its championship-leading campaign in the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC).
This does not mean that the Bentley brand will no longer contest the IGTC, their customer teams are eligible for Manufacturer points with nominated entries at any and all of the remaining rounds (Spa 24 Hours, Indy 8 Hours, Kyalami 9 Hours).
Multiple customer teams may be in line for nomination including CMR, Team Parker Racing, Lazarus and K-Pax with MSport not yet counted out as a possible customer effort for Spa.
This follows the brand’s original plan to reduce M-Sport’s programme in 2020 to allow it to better support its rapidly growing customer programme which features 12 cars from eight teams racing around the world. This news also comes in the wake of Bentley’s huge victory at the Bathurst 12 Hours in February with M-Sport, the brand’s best achievement since the inception of its GT3 programme with the Continental platform.
Bentley says that the compact 2020 racing schedule, which will see most championships fit entire seasons into the second half of the year due to the pandemic, and the cancellation of the IGTC round at Suzuka meant “the decision was made to withdraw Bentley Team M-Sport from IGTC and focus on delivering the absolute best support and service for Bentley’s customer teams”.
Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Paul Williams, said this decision comes as a disappointment.
“Of course we’re disappointed not to see M-Sport complete the Intercontinental GT Challenge this season – especially after the record-breaking win at Bathurst – but we said at the end of last year that in 2020 we would be fully focused on our customers and we need to do that now more than ever,” he said.
“Our customer teams, drivers and sponsors have all endured difficult times financially but they have worked hard to ensure we have 12 cars ready to be competitive once racing continues – it is our duty to continue to stand by our customers and make this season a success.
“Bentley Team M-Sport was outstanding at Bathurst and we hope to have the race-winning outfit back on track with us very soon. We also hope to have some new customer team news to share in the coming weeks, with the Continental GT3 set to take on another top-level series. We are also working with M-Sport to see if they can run at the 24 Hours of Spa, which they would enter as a customer team with our backing like our other teams.”