Bentley has been rumored to be preparing a comeback to the racing circuits for quite some time. Those rumors will be put to rest in just a few hours when the Paris Auto Show opens its doors and we are introduced to the Continental GT3 Concept specially designed for the FIA GT3 European Championship. The future race car will be racing in the 24-hour marathons starting 2013 and will be joining the circuit to tackle the likes of Alpina, Aston Martin, and Porsche.
The Continental GT3 Concept will be based off of the Continental GT Speed . It will be powered by a W12 engine, but unlike the road-going version, it will be much lighter. In fact, the car needs to undergo a significant drop in weight considering its rivals in this category only weigh about 2,755 lbs. By comparison, the standard Continental GT Speed weighs an agonizing 5,478 lbs. The luxury racer will also feature a rear-wheel drive chassis in accordance with the regulations, state-of-the-art motorsport hardware, and a comprehensive aerodynamic package
The vehicle would have to drop all of its luxurious features found in the standard model’s interior and adopt a full race cage and carbon fiber shell seats to participate in these races. The large rear wing and front bumper will be made of carbon fiber and the entire body will consist of lightweight materials.
Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, stated: "The clear message from our customers is that Bentley belongs on the racetrack, and the Continental GT3 is the realisation of a dream we’ve had ever since the launch of the Continental GT. The new GT Speed is the perfect car for us to develop into a racer, and our work so far has shown huge potential. The Continental GT3 is set to show the world what the Continental GT is capable of in its most extreme form, and establishes a solid foundation for Bentley’s long-term motorsport plans."
UPDATE 10/16/12: A few weeks after unveiling the Bentley Continental GT3 Concept at the Paris Motor Show, Bentley has released a new promo video of the concept racer, showing it’s "transformation" from luxury sports car to all-conquering race car. Check it out by clicking on the photo above!
gallery: Bentley Continental GT Speed