Talk about a packed resumé. It’s hard to imagine an automotive journalist who is also a television host and a race car driver, but Chris Harris ticks all of those boxes. He’s part of the squad that will host a new version of Top Gear due out next month, and over the years he’s shown off his considerable driving skills in some serious machinery.
This weekend, though, Harris won’t be engaging in Top Gear shenanigans or polishing off an article. He’ll be racing for Bentley in the opening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series Cup at the Monza circuit in Italy. And Harris will stick around for the season, which includes five races in all.
Harris will drive a Bentley Continental GT3, a stripped down, track-ready version of the Continental GT coupe. It uses a version of the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 available in the road car, tuned to 600 horsepower. The racer also ditches the road-going version’s all-wheel drive for rear-wheel drive, part of a drastic diet. The Continental GT3 weighs about 2,800 pounds, according to Bentley, compared to 5,060 pounds for a stock Continental GT V8.
The Blancpain Endurance Series Cup is a mid-level race series run entirely in Europe. It features mostly GT3 cars, which are based on production models and comply with a set of rules that emphasize (relatively) low cost and commonality with road cars. A U.S. analog is the Pirelli World Challenge, where Bentley runs a pair of Continental GT3 racers virtually identical to the ones that compete in Europe.
Harris will race with Bentley Team Parker Racing in the Pro-Am classes, which mixes professional and amateur drivers. The team will field two cars, alongside two cars from Bentley’s M-Sport factory team, which competes in the top Pro class.
Meanwhile, Top Gear is set to return next month after an overhaul following the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. Harris will host the show alongside Chris Evans, Sabine Schmitz, Eddie Jordan, and Rory Reid. The original Top Gear trio is working on a competing car show of their own for Amazon.