It's not hard to see why the Zell am See Ice Race holds such a legendary place in the annals of motorsport. Held every year between 1937 and 1974, the event saw competitors take to the Austrian town's frozen lake for a number of events, not least amongst which was 'skijoring', in which presumably fearless skiers were pulled behind the racing cars; it's the kind of thing that just wouldn't be possible these days.
At least it wasn't until last year, when Vincenz Greger and Ferdinand Porsche - great-grandson of his namesake - revived the much-loved event. The Porsche family has called the area home for generations, but it's Bentley that's stealing a march on things this time around, unveiling its own specially-prepared Continental GT ahead of this year's running, which takes place this weekend (February 1st/2nd).
The British marque does have form when it comes to this sort of thing - having set an ice speed record of 205.48mph with the previous generation of Continental Supersports Convertible - while its most recent GT has also found success on the slopes of Pikes Peak. Put the two together, then, and what do you get?
A 6.0-litre, 635hp W12-powered ice racer, that's what. Bentley says that the car has been kept as close to production spec as possible, with the usual safety related changes - rear roll cage, fire suppression system, racing seats and harnesses etc - joined by just a couple of other tweaks. Ride height has been increased by an undisclosed amount and arch extensions accommodate a 15mm increase in track width. Studded Pirelli Scorpion tyres, a set of Lazer high performance lights and a custom Akrapovic exhaust round out the performance-related improvements, while the roof features a bespoke ski-rack, fitted with a pair of Bomber for Bentley Centenary Edition skis - because, well, y'know.
Behind the wheel at Zell am See will be FIA European Rally Championship Ladies Trophy winner and current Junior World Rally Championship driver, Catie Munnings.
The first female driver to competitively race for Bentley Motorsport in the modern era, Catie said: "The opportunity to race with Bentley at Zell am See is one that I couldn't miss. I'm completely blown away by the car, and I actually still can't believe I'm getting let loose in a Bentley to do an ice race. I spent some time on ice in the car just before Christmas. At first I thought it would feel heavy, but I was amazed by how dynamic, nimble and responsive it is. It can dance like a lightweight rally car, and I can't wait to race it at such an iconic event."
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