Bentley’s flagship race car – the second generation Continental GT3 – is set to make its 24H SERIES debut at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO having been registered for the event by BoDa by Bas Koeten Racing.
- Words – James Gent
- Images – Bas Koeten Racing
Bentley’s Continental GT3 is set to make its 24H SERIES debut at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO on 25-26-26 March in an entry run by series staple Bas Koeten Racing.
The Bentley is the 14th GT3 entry – and the 45th in total – registered so far for Mugello, and will run as ‘BoDa by Bas Koeten Racing’ in Mugello. This will mark the first time Bentley’s Continental GT3 has competed in an official 24H SERIES event, and, simultaneously, the first time Bas Koeten Racing will run in the 24H SERIES’ GT3 class.
“Since the very beginning Bas Koeten Racing has been involved in the 24h SERIES,” Jelle Koeten explains. “It could well be that we hold the record for the number of cars entered under our flag in the series over the past 15 years. With the Bentley Continental GT3 we now have a first and we are very proud of it!”
Bas Koeten Racing, which took 991-class victory at this year’s season-opening Hankook 24H DUBAI, has also confirmed Bob Herber and Marcel van Berlo on its driver lineup. Herber, also part of Bas Koeten’s winning line-up in Dubai, has competed regularly in the 24H SERIES since 2015 and has taken class wins in both ‘991’ and ‘SP3-GT4’ with Bas Koeten and JR Motorsport. The Dutchman is also the new owner of the Bentley.
“For many years, I’ve [competed in] the Supercar Challenge and the 24H SERIES,” Bob Herber continues. “At the beginning of this year, I came into contact with M-Sport, the manufacturer of the Bentley cars. I secured not one, but two GT3 Gen2s, including the car that won the 2020 Bathurst 12 Hours.
“The car has the same power as the Lamborghini Supertrofeo in which I’ve raced in the Supercar Challenge in recent years, but has much better aerodynamics and a more advanced braking system. People think that the Bentley is a heavy car, but the opposite is true. At the [Hankook] 12H MUGELLO, we will test how the car performs in an endurance race.”
van Berlo meanwhile most recently took class victory with Bas Koeten at the 2021 Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, one year on from securing overall victory with the team at the inaugural 2020 edition of the event. The Dutchman has also competed in the 24H SERIES since 2018 with Speedlover, Munckhof Racing, and with sons Kay and Glenn as part of Van Berlo Racing.
Introduced as a track-dedicated version of Bentley’s sports coupé in 2013, the Continental GT3 was the first official race car from the British marque since the 2003 Le Mans-winning Speed 8 LMP1 prototype, and was built together with the Bentley’s technical partner – and two-time World Rally Championship winner – M-Sport Ltd. Built on the aluminium chassis of its road-going counterpart, the GT3 featured new carbon fibre body panels, a front splitter and an enormous rear spoiler, as well as stronger ventilated brakes, control-arm suspension and adjustable dampers. FIA-approved accoutrement on the inside included a new fuel cell, roll cage, a Sparco six-point harness racing seats. In a neat touch, a hand-stitched steering wheel (and bespoke door pulls) was all that remained of Bentley’s customary ‘luxury’ interior, plush leather, wood trim, electronic componentry and air suspension, among other niceties, having been removed to remove over a ton of weight to get the GT3’s kerb weight down to 1,300kg.
The Continental’s 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 also made the now transition, albeit now with an engine management software from Cosworth and with power upped to around 600hp compared with the GT roadcar’s 500hp. Mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox, the GT3 also ditched the Continental GT’s all-wheel drive setup in favour of a limited slip differential and rear-wheel drive.
Having already racked up 120 podiums – including 45 wins – across 538 worldwide, and following the launch of the third generation Continental roadcar at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017, Bentley also unveiled an updated Continental GT3 ahead of the 2018 season. Like the road-going model, the GT3 now featured more aerodynamic bodywork, bespoke suspension and braking systems, a twin-turbo V8 – complete with redesign dry sump – producing “in excess of 550hp”, and “a race-ready weight of significantly less than 1300kg.” The second gen GT3 was the pillar of a Bentley racing program “larger than ever before” in 2020, which also included victory at that year’s Bathurst 12 Hours.
In 2021, a heavily-modified version of the Continental GT3 – featuring a revised chassis and bodywork, and a twin-turbo V8 run on 98RON Renewable Racing Fuel and pushing more than 750hp – even took on the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.