The old Bentley Continental GT3 was one of the most improbable race cars in recent memory. It was a massive luxury coupe sent out to do battle against lighter and more agile Ferraris and Porsches on the world’s racetracks. But the Continental GT3 did pretty well for itself, racking up 45 wins and 120 podiums in 528 races around the world, so Bentley is building a new one.
The new Continental GT3 is based on the redesigned Bentley Continental GT road car that debuted at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Like the previous version, the new race car was built for the FIA GT3 class, which only allows racers based on actual production models. But while the Continental GT3 race car and Continental GT road car share some DNA, the differences outnumber the similarities.
The GT3 uses a stock Continental GT body shell, but engineers at Bentley and technical partner M-Sport added numerous ducts, scoops, splitters, and spoilers to improve aerodynamic performance. The basic body shell is mostly aluminum, but many of the body panels as well as add-on bits like the front splitter and rear wing are made from carbon fiber, decreasing weight even further. The interior was likely stripped of all luxury items as well. Bentley says the GT3 weighs “significantly less” than 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) in race trim, or about half the weight of a road-going Continental GT.
Power comes courtesy of a modified version of the 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 used in the previous-generation Continental GT3. Bentley says the racing version makes approximately 550 horsepower, although output may be restricted depending on the rules of a given race series. That power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential transaxle. That contrasts the road-going Continental GT, which remains all-wheel drive only.
Bentley plans to race the new Continental GT3 in Europe’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup next year; the car will make its racing debut in that series at the Italian Monza circuit. The outgoing version of the Continental GT3 currently races in the United States in the Pirelli World Challenge, but Bentley hasn’t confirmed plans to continue racing Stateside with the new car.