Bentley unveils Continental GT monster for Pikes Peak tilt
While there’s ongoing division around whether the current era of Pikes Peak hillclimb, with its paved surface and electric combatants, is as loved in the world of motorsport as the gravel eras of the past, there’s little doubt that the extent of the engineering within each entrant is just as incredible and impressive as ever.
Bentley has made a name for itself at Pikes Peak in recent years, in its claiming of production-car records; first with a road-going Bentayga and then a road-going Continental. Now, the British marque has turned the dial up from 11 to 12 with its latest Pikes Peak battler.
The storied manufacturer has revealed the “most extreme road-car based Bentley ever” in the form of the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak. As the name suggests, it’s based on the firm’s GT3 combatant, only it’s inherited a raft of changes engineered specifically to give it an edge at this year’s Pikes Peak event.
The most obvious changes on the surface concern the model’s aero, which is several steps up from its standard (and already fairly aggressive) garb. It gains a much wider front splitter that’s far wider than the front track sitting behind it and features separate dive planes. The new rear wing and rear diffuser are also easily the largest fitted to any Bentley.
Under the bonnet is the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 as in the GT3, which comes with its own bevy of tweaks. Bentley has remained coy on how much power it produces, but it’s safe to say that output has probably increased relative to the standard GT3’s approximate 372kW.
One element of the model’s mechanicals that Bentley has fleshed out is the Pikes Peak beast’s use of alternative fuels. The project heralds the beginning of Bentley’s study into biofuels and e-fuels. The race car itself will use biofuel-based gasoline, a first for a Bentley racing project.
It’s an interesting development for Bentley, given that the marque has already committed to eliminating internal combustion engines from its line-up by 2030 (all models are to be at least electrified by 2026). The development of such alternative fuels could provide an out for the brand if it ends up producing ICE vehicles beyond 2030.
Bentley isn’t the first brand to commit to developing and researching alternative fuels for ICE vehicles. Porsche is currently in the process of doing the same, with the motive of one day being able to sell a ‘man made fuel’ product on the market as a petrol alternative. Bentley says that the blend it’s using in its Conti’ racer could produce up to 85 per cent less greenhouse gases than standard fuel.
Who will drive the big brutish Bentley? None other than Rhys Millen; an expat New Zealander, son of Pikes Peak legend Rod Millen, a former outright winner of the event, and the pilot that Bentley has used for its previous record-breaking recent runs. Pikes Peak's 99th running takes place on June 27.