Volkswagen's performance at Goodwood may have stolen the headlines over the past few days, but it wasn't the only marque to break records at a famous hillclimb recently. Bentley snatched the Pikes Peak production record from Porsche by 8.4 seconds the previous weekend, using a Continental GT - the car standard in every aspect except for the safety upgrades mandated for competition.
And thanks to a helmet-mounted camera, we can now get some idea of just how much driver Rhys Millen had to push to record his 10 minute 18.488 second time. There's plenty more information in the original story below, but for now just sit back and try to relax as you join the Kiwi driver flat-out on the 156-turn mountain course.
ORIGINAL STORY, AS REPORTED 01/07/2019:
Bentley succeeded in setting a new record time for production cars at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb over the weekend when three-time event winner, Rhys Millen, drove its W12 GT to the summit in 10 mins 18.488 seconds. That not only beats the previous overall production car record, set in 2015 by David Donner in a 991 Porsche 911 Turbo S, by a comfortable eight seconds, it dwarfs the SUV record time that Bentley set in 2018 with the Bentayga by 31.4 seconds. Speaks volumes for the laws of physics.
In order to qualify for the production class, the specification of the 2019 GT was standard, barring the fitment of a compulsory roll-cage, fire suppression system and racing seats, with an unmodified 6.0-litre engine producing the same 642hp as the regular GT Speed does. With Pikes Peak’s famous 156-bend route climbing some 5,000 feet from its start to finish, the latter being some 14,100 feet above sea level, the twin-turbocharged twelve-cylinder had to make do with air that’s a third less dense at the top.
Still, with 620lb ft of torque at sea level, something tells us the 2.3-tonne coupe had more than enough in the bag to keep up some serious pace as the atmosphere thinned. Millen averaged a significant 69.8mph up the technical route, 4.3mph more than the Bentayga managed the year before despite less than ideal conditions for 2019. Although, to put things into perspective, Volkswagen’s 2018 ID R overall record run averaged 90.5mph thanks to the slicks, massive downforce and unaffected electric powertrain used by the prototype.
With his production car mission for 2019 completed, 46-year-old Kiwi Millen said yesterday: "This is an amazing finish to a wet, snowy run at Pikes Peak! We came here with one goal in mind, and that was to be the fastest production car up the mountain and set a new record. It was an incredible week. Today was a challenge with what Mother Nature threw at us, but the Continental GT held strong all the way to the top, and we are now number one”.
Bentley put out a special Pikes Peak version of its Bentayga after its 2018 record, so perhaps we could see a similar celebratory version of its GT in the coming months. The British firm is certainly not one to let successes in motorsport go unnoticed; indeed, the firm’s director of motorsport, Brian Gush, said the “new record once again proves that the spirit of endeavour and desire to push the boundaries of automotive performance remain at the beating heart of Bentley”. So any bragging rights are well deserved.
Away from its celebrations in the US, Bentley has also confirmed that it will reveal its EXP 100 GT concept, said to embody “the future Bentley brand” in the firm’s century centenary year by providing a vision “of the future of luxury mobility”, on the July 6th. Perhaps it'll also preview the sort of machinery the marque will send to Pikes Peak in a decade or two.