There was already cause for some considerable excitement regarding the Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak. Not just because it looked like Batman's track project or was built with record-breaking ambition or posed questions about renewable fuel possibilities; they were all intriguing, sure, but it was the performance we desperately wanted to know about. To beat the Time Attack 1 record (and to do justice to the aero kit), the Pikes Peak was going to need an enormous amount of power - now we know how much.
Well, kind of. Bentley says the GT3 has been running at "more than 750hp" in testing, with more than 738lb ft as well. But that's just for starters, as the engine "will run even higher power levels for the race itself." Exactly how much higher isn't clear, but given the power losses sustained on the Colorado climb it could well be an awful lot more - even 750hp at sea level is a great deal less once thousands of metres up.
To achieve such outputs, the Continental's 4.0-litre V8 has been treated to new pistons and rods, strong enough to cope with a boost increase for the pair of turbos to 2.2 bar. The carbon intake manifold has been strengthened to cope, and the rear driveshafts are larger as well. Akrapovic has been called in to build unique exhaust manifolds, with "dedicated screamer pipes" - Bentley's words, not ours - belching out just behind the front wheels.
Everything has been tailored to cope with a monumental power output and the performance it'll be capable of, including a gearbox lubricant specifically developed for the Pikes Peak by Mobil 1, an entire secondary cooling system and water-cooled brakes. It sounds like 750hp is just the start. And all on the 98RON 'Renewable Race Fuel', don't forget, promising a reduction in greenhouse gas reduction of up to 85 per cent - a "technological stepping stone to sustainably-created eFuel", no less.
But, of course, as a wise ad person from Pirelli once said, power is nothing without control. And while anybody could guess that this car - seemingly a cross between a Conti GT and the Suzuki Escudo from Gran Turismo - might have some strong aero potential, Bentley has now released a few extra details. It's claimed the Pikes Peak delivers 30 per cent more downforce than the regular GT3 racer at sea level, but with the aero balance of that car between front and rear maintained. The chassis has also been totally overhauled to tackle the unique challenge of Pikes Peak, too, with the softest possible springs and anti-roll bars fitted so as to maximise weight transfer for braking. Both axles have been tweaked for reduced camber against the track setup, benefitting the low-speed nature of the climb's corners.
So, anybody not excited already about the maddest, baddest Bentley ever ought to be by now. Testing will continue in the final few weeks leading up to the Pikes Peak proper, with Rhys Millen again driving as he was for Bentley's previous two records with the Bentayga and Continental GT. For this Time Attack T1 attempt, he'll need to average more than 78mph through the 156 turns to beat the 9:36 current class best. Which would be some achievement. But if you were ever going to bet on a car and driver combination at Pikes Peak, surely 'King of the Mountain' Millen and a Bentley like this one would be it. June 27th can't come soon enough.
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