Bentley is no stranger to the famous Pike Peak International Hill Climb event in the USA, have set records in previous years – the Production SUV record in 2018 with a Bentayga W12, and the outright Production Car record scored in 2019 with a Continental GT.
For this year’s event, to be run in late June, the carmaker will again compete in the ‘Race to the Clouds’ and the car it will enter will be the first competition Bentley to run on renewable fuel, ahead of a goal to offer sustainable fuels to Bentley’s customers around the world. It is related to a major new sustainability initiative with a renewable fuels research and development programme spearheaded by the most extreme roadcar-based Bentley in its 101-year history.
The modified Continental GT3 racer, based on Bentley’s race and championship-winning car, will power its way up the 19.99 km course running on a biofuel-based petrol. Various blends of fuels are currently being tested and evaluated, with possible Greenhouse Gas reductions of up to 85% over standard fossil fuel.
All-electric range by 2030
This first step marks the start of a longer programme that will investigate both biofuels and e-fuels for their potential to power the Bentleys of past and present in a sustainable way. Bentley’s ambitious and transformational Beyond100 programme aims to make the brand the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company, with the entire Bentley model range offered with hybrid variants by 2023 ahead of its entire range running only on electricity by 2030.
Combustion-engine Bentley models will still be produced for the next 9 years – and Bentley’s new project aims to make those cars as sustainable as possible through the use of innovative fuel technologies. With more than 80% of all the cars it has ever built still on the road, a genuinely sustainable and customer-facing renewable fuel offering will also allow customers to enjoy their current and classic Bentleys responsibly for years to come.
At the 2018 Pikes Peak Hillclimb, Millen claimed the outright record for a production SUV with a Bentayga. “We are delighted to be returning to Pikes Peak for a third time – now powered by renewable fuel, as the launch project for another new element of our Beyond100 programme. Our powertrain engineers are already researching both biofuels and e-fuels for use by our customers alongside our electrification programme – with intermediate steps of adopting renewable fuels at the factory in Crewe and for our company fleet. In the meantime, the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will show that renewable fuels can allow motorsport to continue in a responsible way, and hopefully it will capture the third and final record in our triple crown,” said Bentley’s Member of the Board for Engineering, Dr. Matthias Rabe.
Partnered by Fastr and M-Sport
The project is being run together with British Continental GT3 customer team Fastr, who have successfully campaigned their Bentley racing car in time attack competitions across the country. Technical teams from Bentley and Fastr are working together with specialists from M-Sport to extract the maximum possible performance from the Continental GT3 package.
156 corners at average speed of 125 km/h
To break the record, the car will have to complete the climb, which includes 156 corners, at an average speed of more than 125 km/h to cross the finish line in less than 9 minutes and 36 seconds. To help achieve this target will be 3-time Pikes Peak champion and former ‘King of the Mountain’ Rhys Millen who holds individual class records and who set Bentley’s two existing Pikes Peak records.
With the start line at 2,835 metres, the course climbs to almost 4,300 metres – where the air is 1/3 less dense than at sea level. The reduced air density will have implications on engine performance and the high speed the car must run at will also require a good aerodynamics package. It will have biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley, sitting above a highly efficient rear diffuser that surrounds the transaxle gearbox. This rear aerodynamic package is balanced by a two-plane splitter at the front, flanked by separate dive planes.
The dashboard of the Limited Edition Pikes Peak Bentley Continental GT has a diagram of the mountain course with 156 corners. The engine is Bentley’s proven racing power unit, developed from the 4-litre turbo V8 fitted to the Continental GT V8. For the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, engine modifications together with the use of carefully selected biofuel will ensure the engine develops significant horsepower despite the rarefied conditions it will operate in. Short side-exit exhausts will ensure the car sounds as dramatic as it looks.
Further modifications include cooling airscoops in place of the rear windows, and the obligatory stopwatch mounted to the roll cage next to the steering wheel to allow Millen to keep track of his progress up the mountain.
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