GT News: Bentley ends factory IGTC programme with immediate effect

Bentley has called time on its factory race programme with the M-Sport team in this year's Intercontinental GT Challenge with immediate effect

GT News: Bentley ends factory IGTC programme with immediate effect

The axing of the two-car IGTC effort after victory in the season-opening Bathurst 12 Hours in February is the result of multiple factors, according to Bentley motorsport director Paul Williams.

He explained that a shift of emphasis in Bentley's GT3 programme with the second-generation Continental developed by M-Sport towards customers teams and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the decision.

Williams revealed that the cancellation of the Suzuka 10 Hours in August and concerns about the viability and safety of international travel over the second half of this year played roles alongside the financial implications of the world health crisis.

"The fact is that the factory programme is not the biggest priority for us," Williams told Autosport.

"When you have to make a choice, it is an easy choice — the priority is our customers.

The cancellation of the Suzuka event means that the next IGTC round is due to be the US round at Indianapolis at the start of October, which will be followed by the rescheduled Spa 24 Hours later that month and the Kyalami 9 Hours in November.

Williams stressed that the decision to end the factory race campaign with M-Sport covered the 2020 season only.

"I still have the desire and the intent to carry on with a factory programme in the future, although we will be more and more focussed on customer racing rather than works racing," he said.

"I think it is important to keep a pinnacle there and it is important for our customers to have a technical partner in M-Sport who goes racing as well.

"But we don't have the final decision on what form that will take."

The latest move follows a scaling back of M-Sport's programme for 2020 ahead of the season.

The team had competed in the Blancpain GT Series, now known as the GT World Challenge Europe, every year since the first full season of the Bentley GT3 programme in 2013, but was only scheduled to compete in the five IGTC rounds this year.

The change in emphasis at Bentley followed Williams taking over the role as head of motorsport at the British manufacturer on the retirement of Brian Gush, the architect of the GT3 programme, at the end of last summer.

Bentley is offering more assistance to its customer teams in 2020 than in previous seasons.

Max Soulet and Jordan Pepper, who claimed the victory at Bathurst together with Jules Gounon, are due to race with the US K-PAX team in the Endurance Cup segment of the GTWCE when it kicks off at Imola next month.

French squad CMR (Classic & Modern Racing) is due to be loaned Gounon for the GTWCE Sprint Cup and Seb Morris for the enduros.

Bentley is also running a young driver programme in the GTWCE this year together with Team Parker Racing.

Frank Bird, Nicolai Kjaergaard and Euan McKay will race under the Bentley Motorsport Academy banner in the silver cup class of the GTWCE Endurance Cup.

Oliver Jarvis and Alex Buncombe, who were teamed with Morris in the IGTC, are the other full factory drivers on Bentley's books.

Williams said that it is unlikely that Jarvis will race a Bentley again this year because of his IMSA SportsCar Championship commitments with Mazda, but he raised the prospect of Buncombe being loaned out to customers.

A total of 12 Continental GT3s spread between eight customer teams are due to represent Bentley this year.

Williams revealed that there is the possibility of another team joining that roster.

shares
comments
GT News: Suzuka 10 Hours cancelled for Intercontinental GT Challenge

Previous article

GT News: Suzuka 10 Hours cancelled for Intercontinental GT Challenge

Next article

GT News: Nurburgring 24 Hours still set to go ahead in September

GT News: Nurburgring 24 Hours still set to go ahead in September
Load comments

About this article

Series GT
Teams RAM Racing
Author Gary Watkins
Why GTE's future is a conundrum with no easy answers Plus

Why GTE's future is a conundrum with no easy answers

The convergence between the World Endurance Championship and IMSA over LMDh regulations offers a bright future for sportscar racing, but the imminent demise of IMSA's GT Le Mans class creates wider issues to which no catch-all solution exists

GT
Feb 3, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Plus

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it

GT
Jan 23, 2021
Why a lost F1 hope is still in demand aged 65 Plus

Why a lost F1 hope is still in demand aged 65

There's a saying among retired folk that life begins at 60, but endurance specialist Alain Ferte has never used the 'R' word. Some 40 years since his crowning glory in F3, he's still a driver in demand and gunning for more 24-hour racing success this weekend

GT
Jan 15, 2021
How a BTCC veteran conquered the summit in British GT Plus

How a BTCC veteran conquered the summit in British GT

After two decades in touring cars, Rob Collard had an uphill battle to unlearn the tools needed to be quick in tin-tops and understand how to hustle a GT3 car. But he did so with aplomb to prevail alongside Sandy Mitchell amid a challenging year for the series

GT
Dec 17, 2020
The high-power solution to counter a dying breed Plus

The high-power solution to counter a dying breed

SRO boss Stephane Ratel was worried about the disappearance of the amateur - or 'gentleman' - drivers who used to be the bedrock of GT3. So he invented a new category that brings back a familiar name from the past

GT
Dec 6, 2020
The Dutch oddity that was too niche for its own good Plus

The Dutch oddity that was too niche for its own good

Despite (briefly) having its own F1 arm, Spyker's period in international sportscar racing was spent mostly propping up the grid. Its C8 Laviolette GT2-R stands as one of the last underfunded factory GT efforts that never got a helping hand from BOP

GT
May 21, 2020
How a "fragile s***box" conquered a sportscar classic Plus

How a "fragile s***box" conquered a sportscar classic

It was rare to see anything other than a Ferrari or a Porsche winning GT2 races in the mid-2000s, but TVR's victory in the 2005 Spa 1000km was all the more remarkable given it first had to last the full six hours

GT
Apr 22, 2020
The hard-hitting film that highlights drivers' vulnerabilities Plus

The hard-hitting film that highlights drivers' vulnerabilities

Porsche's recently-released documentary film takes fans behind the scenes of two gruelling 24-hour races in as many weekends last year, at Le Mans and the Nurburgring. That neither goes to plan only makes for a more authentic and rewarding viewing experience

GT
Apr 17, 2020