Bentley interested in electric endurance racing
14 April 2020 - autocar
British luxury marque prepares to end Continental GT3 programme, but would look at long-form EV racing
Bentley's race programmes with the Continental GT3 can't be sustained if the brand is to achieve its environmental ambitions, CEO Adrian Hallmark has admitted.
The British firm launched its endurance racing programme with the first Continental GT3 in 2013, with that machine replaced by a new generation version in 2018. The project has included a works team run by the M-Sport squad, which won the Bathurst 12 Hours earlier this year and will run in the Intercontinental GT Challenge. The firm also supports a number of customer teams in various national and international GT championships.
While the latest Continental GT3 was only launched alongside the latest Continental GT road car in 2018, Hallmark has hinted that the project will not form part of Bentley's long-term plans.
He said: "We're committed to the cars we've built and have a business built around selling more but, looking forward around 10 years, perhaps sooner, then I can't see a place for racing as it is today fitting with our goals."
Those goals are increasingly likely to focus on electric motorsport. Bentley's parent firm, Volkswagen, has axed all its non-EV works motorsport programmes, and is focused on its efforts with the ID R hillclimb car. Meanwhile, sister brands Audi and Porsche both run works teams in Formula E.
"What we are keen to look into, though, is pure-electric endurance racing, particularly if they have a genuine link back to pushing the boundaries of battery energy management. Races of at least 1.5 hours but ideally up to four – even if it was two hours, then charging, then two more – would be something we'd like to be part of.
"As I sit here today, I'm not aware of any such initiative, but I'd be surprised if it isn't being looked at. Formula E is interesting but not for Bentley. One-make racing doesn't push boundaries.
"The cars would need to be prototypes, using technology that pushes our understanding of what's possible. If that was possible, we'd definitely explore it."
Even if Bentley withdraws from GT3 competition as a works competitor, it could still potentially continue to support those customer teams that currently run the Continental GT3.