In its third and what is expected to be its final entrant, the Bentley Continental GT3 was the fastest racecar to complete the 2021 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb using sustainable fuel.
The car, driven by legendary Rhys Millen, finished second in the Time Attack 1 category and fourth overall. The time of 6:36.281, good enough to beat other sustainability-focused entrants and fully electric competitors, could have been faster if not for a very late engine issue that estimated to cost the team an additional 16 seconds and the win.
The 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb saw a reduced competition distance (by a third) due to treacherous weather conditions at the summit with the chequered flag being waved at Devil’s Playground, 12,780 ft above sea level rather than the 14,115-ft summit.
Check out the full onboard run with breathtaking scenery in the 2019 Bentley Continental GT
Bentley was aiming to achieve an unofficial Pikes Peak “triple crown” with Continental GT3 Pikes Peak being entered in the Time Attack class, after already taking records for Production SUV record with the Bentayga W12 in 2018 and Production Car record a year later with a Continental GT.
The Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak is quite different from the circuit racing FIA-GT3 machine. First up are the massive front and rear appendages that add 30% more downforce. The rear features the biggest wing ever fitted to a Bentley together with a highly efficient floor diffuser.
Meanwhile, the front bumper has an integrated dual-plane splitter flanked by separate dive planes.
Find out more about the Fanatec steering wheel that allows usage from sim to actual Bentley race car!
Mechanical grip has also been increased via a dedicated Pikes Peak suspension setup that is softer for low-speed cornering performance and the brakes are water-cooled for maximum performance during the hill climb race that ascends nearly 5,000 ft (1,524 metres). The car was using Pirelli P Zero slick tyres for the event.
As for power, the unrestricted 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 pumps out at least 750 hp and 1,000 Nm of torque at sea level. For the Pikes Peak time attack, the engine has been thoroughly upgraded for more power, switching to larger turbochargers pushing over 2.2 bar of boost with dedicated wastegate exhaust pipes and even stronger internal components.
A new carbon fibre intake manifold has also been made to withstand the higher pressures. The engine runs on RON 98 renewable racing fuel which is a blend of advanced synthetic fuels that can offer up to an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Lessons learnt from using synthetic and renewable fuels will also be applied to road cars, as Bentley will continue to offer the internal combustion engine for the next nine years.