Bentley aims to become a Triple Crown Pikes Peak winner with this biofuel-powered car

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Two years after breaking and making a record at the 2019 Pikes Peak, Bentley is looking forward to another fruitful year this time at the event. The British automaker’s entry this year is also based on the Continental GT and goes by the name Continental GT3 Pikes Peak. This year, Bentley wants to go for the Time Attack 1 record, and for that, it has created a car that runs on renewable fuel. How about that?

Bentley Wants To Leave A Lasting Impression About Its Biofuel Tech

2021 Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak Exterior
- image 982264
The Continental GT3 is the first Bentley ever to run on renewable fuel.

The automaker said that various blends of fuels are currently being tested and evaluated and estimates up to 85-percent of Greenhouse Gas over standard fossil fuel. Bentley said, “This first step marks the start of a longer program that will investigate both biofuels and e-fuels for their potential to power the Bentleys of past and present in a sustainable way.”

2021 Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak Exterior
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At a time when everyone’s focus is on electrification, it seems a little wayward to see Bentley investing its resources into biofuel technology. This is part of the company’s Beyond100 program with which Bentley aims to become the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company. The automaker has noted that the entire Bentley model range will be offered with Hybrid variants by 2023, and by 2030, it will become a battery-electric vehicle-only brand.

The Continental GT3 Is Aerodynamically-Efficient

2021 Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 982270

Speaking about the car, Bentley has bet a lot on it and wants its third entry to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb event to be a successful one. The Continental GT3 features a 4.0-liter, V-8 turbocharged engine under the hood. The company hasn’t mentioned its power outputs, but in the standard Continental GT, the same mill makes 520 horses and 502 pound-feet of torque. The peak horsepower arrives at 6,000 rpm, but the peak torque hits at just 1,700 rpm. Power is sent to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It takes just 4.3 seconds to sprint to 60 mph from rest. We’ve already mentioned it runs on bio-fuel and it needs to be seen how it performs in such extreme conditions. The car also comes with short side exhausts for those muscular grunts.

2021 Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak specifications
Engine 4.0-liter, V-8 turbocharged
Horsepower 520 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Torque 502 LB-FT @ 1,700 RPM
Transmission eight-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 4.3 seconds
2021 Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 982276
The 12.42-mile hill climb isn’t an easy one. It starts at 9,300 feet and ends at 14,100 feet.

The air is one-third less dense than the sea level. So, apart from the power, the car also had to be very efficient aerodynamically. Bentley calls this Continental GT3 the “most extreme iteration of a Continental GT – or indeed any Bentley road car – ever.” Up front, it comes with a two-plane splitter that’s flanked by separate dive planes. The car comes with the biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley. There’s also a rear diffuser that wraps around the transaxle gearbox. Apart from this, the automaker has also equipped the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak with cooling air scoops in place of the rear windows and the obligatory stopwatch mounted to the roll cage next to the steering wheel. It’s a Bentley after all!

Final Thoughts

2021 Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 982274

The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will be piloted by Rhys Millen. Rhys is a three-time Pikes Peak champion and had set a world record in a Hyundai with a time of 9:46.164 at the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb event. Even the two records that Bentley holds currently were set by the New Zealander. We’ll need to see if the 48-year old can set a world record for Bentley with this biofuel-powered Continental GT3 and make the British automaker a Triple Crown winner.

The 5,000-feet climb to reach atop the hill includes 156 corners and the car needs to maintain an average speed of more than 78 mph to break the record, which currently stands at nine minutes and 36 seconds. The Continental GT3 is currently being tested in the U.K., but will be shipped to the States for altitude testing. The 2021 edition of the hill climb event marks its 99th year and will be held on June 27.

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read full bio
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Bentley has today launched a major new sustainability initiative, with the announcement of a renewable fuels research and development programme spearheaded by the most extreme road-car-based Bentley in its 101 year history. The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, designed and built to compete for the Time Attack 1 record at this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, 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.

The modified Continental GT3 racer, based on Bentley’s race- and championship-winning car, will power its way through the 12.42-mile course running on a biofuel-based gasoline. Various blends of fuels are currently being tested and evaluated, with possible Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions of up to 85 per cent over standard fossil fuel. 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 will see the brand become the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company, with the entire Bentley model range offered with Hybrid variants by 2023 ahead of Bentley being BEV-only by 2030. The adoption of renewable fuel for this project signals the start of a long-term ambition for Bentley, initiating a research and development programme that aims to offer renewable fuels to Bentley customers in parallel to Bentley’s electrification programme. This two-strand strategy is set to maximise the pace of Bentley’s progress towards outright carbon neutrality, as part of its Beyond100 journey.

Combustion-engine Bentleys will still be produced for the next nine 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 per cent of all Bentleys 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.

Bentley’s Member of the Board for Engineering, Dr Matthias Rabe, comments:

“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.”

Bentley’s pinnacle Pikes Peak project is being run in conjunction with British Continental GT3 customer team Fastr, who have successfully campaigned their Bentley race car in time attack competitions across the country. Technical teams from Bentley and Fastr are working together with specialists from M-Sport in Cumbria to extract the maximum possible performance from the Continental GT3 package, which will be run in Colorado by the same team and with assistance from K-PAX Racing.

To break the record, the car will have to complete the nearly 5,000 ft climb, which includes 156 corners, at an average speed of more than 78 mph to cross the finish line in less than nine minutes and 36 seconds. To help achieve this ambitious target, Bentley has once again turned to three-time Pikes Peak champion and former “King of the Mountain’ Rhys Millen (NZ) – who holds individual class records. It was with Millen that Bentley captured its two existing Pikes Peak records – the Production SUV record attained in 2018 with a Bentayga W12, and the outright Production Car record scored in 2019 with a Continental GT.

The Most Extreme Road-Car-Based Bentley in History
With the start line at 9,300 ft, the course climbs to 14,100 ft - where the air is 1/3 less dense than at sea level. This environment means that the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak features modifications both to its aerodynamics package and its engine, turning it into the most extreme iteration of a Continental GT – or indeed any Bentley road car – ever.

The biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley dominates the rear of the car, 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 engine is Bentley’s proven racing power unit, developed from the 4.0-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 air scoops in place of the rear windows, and the obligatory stopwatch mounted to the roll cage next to the steering wheel, to allow Rhys Millen to keep track of his sector times up the mountain.

The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak now enters a major test and development phase, based initially in the UK before being shipped to the USA for altitude testing. An update on the progress of the car will be issued in May, ahead of the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 27 June. More technical details about the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will be released in due course.

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