Bentley launches sustainability initiative with epic Continental GT3 Pikes Peak
- Barnstorming new Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will run on biofuel
- Pikes Peak hill climb record attempt spearheads Bentley’s new sustainability programme
- Expectations of large reductions in greenhouse gases
Bentley has launched a major new sustainability programme that will be spearheaded by the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, said to be the most extreme road-car-based Bentley in the company’s 101 year history.
Bentley has confirmed it will begin a significant renewable fuels research and development programme with the car, which has been designed to compete for the Time Attack I record at this year’s Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb, and will be the first competition Bentley to run on renewable fuel.
The Crewe-based manufacturer claims that the biofuel used will result in possible Greenhouse Gas reductions of up to 85% over standard fossil fuel, as the modified Continental GT3 car powers up the legendary 12.42 mile course. Various blends of fuels are currently being tested and evaluated, marking the start of a longer programme that will evaluate biofuels and e-fuels that could power Bentleys both past and present in a sustainable way.
Bentley expects that their entire range will have hybrid variants by 2023, and their Beyond100 programme is set to see the manufacturer become the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company. The biofuel research is in addition to their electrification programme, with the two-strand strategy set to accelerate Bentley’s plans to achieve carbon neutrality.
The company will continue to produce combustion-engined vehicles for the next nine years (until the government ban in 2030), but these engines will be as sustainable as possible as Bentley’s research improves the fuels used. Official figures show that over 80% of all Bentley vehicles ever made are still in use, and so new fuels will be key to keeping both old and new cars on the road in the coming decades.
Bentley’s latest assault on the historic hill climb in Colorado USA will see them target the ‘Triple Crown’ of Pikes Peak records, as the manufacturer already holds Production SUV and Production Car records achieved in 2018 and 2019.
The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak has been developed in conjunction with GT3 Customer team Fastr, and will see former King of the Mountain Rhys Millen return to driving duty. The car will need to complete the 5,000ft climb, encompassing 156 corners, at an average speed of more than 78mph to break the record. Millen helped Bentley claim their two existing milestones.
As well as the modifications for the new biofuels, the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will also feature the biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley, positioned above a massively powerful diffuser, while at the front features a two-plane splitter and separate dive planes.
The 4-litre turbo V8 engine is well proven in endurance racing, which combined with the potent biofuel will produce ‘significant’ horsepower, and will be mated with short side-exit exhausts to produce a dramatic sound.
Cooling air scoops will take the space usually occupied by the rear windows, while a roll cage mounted stopwatch will allow Millen to keep track of his times up the mountain.
The car will go testing, initially at locations in the UK, before moving on to the USA for altitude testing.
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.
Richard Randle is a motorsport PR professional working with the UK’s top racing circuits and the UK’s premier single-seater category, the BRDC British F3 Championship.