Bathurst 12 winners Bentley Motorsport will pull the pin on their factory GT3 programme at the end of 2020 season.
The British manufacturer announced yesterday that there would be a full closure of its works programme, including the releasing of its contracted drivers.
Bentley made its competition GT3 debut in 2013 at the Gulf 12 Hours. After mixed fortunes across its first few seasons, Bentley’s factory-backed MSport outfit then secured the 2017 Blancpain GT Series teams championship.
The following year saw the unveiling of the second-generation Bentley Continental, which would compete in both Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and Intercontinental GT Challenge.
It is in the latter series that MSport claimed Bentley’s most significant result by winning this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour with Jordan Pepper, Jules Gounon and Maxime Soulet.
The win has set the trio with a chance to clinch the IGTC drivers’ championship in the series finale at Kyalami next weekend.
Several Bentley customer team efforts are expected to continue into 2021. Bentley customer teams have also been active in GT3 competitions such as GT World Challenge Europe, Australian GT and ADAC GT Masters.
However, the ceasing of the factory effort is the start of a natural winding down process for Bentley’s involvement in GT3 racing.
“The Bentley Continental GT3 was launched in 2013 to prove and promote the performance of the road-going Continental GT and, by beating the likes of Ferrari and McLaren on track, we did exactly this,” said Bentley director of motorsport, Paul Williams.
“As Bentley moves rapidly towards becoming the world’s leading luxury sustainable mobility brand, the GT3 category no longer supports the strategy, but there are some exciting changes in the industry right now, and we are closely evaluating how motorsport can support the brand in the future.
“While it is always sad when a motorsport programme runs its natural course, we will all look at this with the same pride that we look at the successes of the 1920s and at the Speed 8 that won Le Mans, it is a fantastic chapter in our history, but every chapter must end to make way for a new one.
“But first we need to focus on Kyalami. We have all six works drivers back together for the final time; we have Max, Jules and Jordan in with a real chance of taking the title; and we are ready to demonstrate that the Continental GT3 is still capable of competing at the top level.”