Bentley Motorsport has revealed an impressive driver line-up for this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa (25-28 July), where the British marque will add a further two cars to its regular roster as it chases the biggest prize in GT3 racing.
The renewed assault coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Bentley brand, which was founded in London in 1919 and now ranks among the world’s foremost luxury vehicle manufacturers. Having launched its second-generation Continental GT3 machine last term, the marque now has its sights set on victory in the Belgian Ardennes.
To do so it will deploy a quartet of Pro class cars, adding significant firepower to its existing arsenal. The entries will compete using the numbers #107, #108, #109 and #110, with the symbolic 100 recognising Bentley’s centenary year.
Two of those crews – the #107 and #108 – are contesting the full Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli, of which the Total 24 Hours of Spa is the marquee event. Steven Kane, Jules Gounon and Jordan Pepper will pilot the squad’s #107 machine, continuing a relationship that has already secured strong results on the international stage.
The sister #108 will see the return of two longstanding Bentley Boys in Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet, while a third driver will be announced in due course. This follows the departure of Vincent Abril, who has elected to explore new opportunities in 2019 following four seasons representing the British brand.
The two additional cars will see Bentley draw from its own customer racing pool and the wider world of GT competition as it chases victory in the hugely demanding Spa contest.
The three drivers promoted from within the Bentley Motorsport family will share a car, with Seb Morris, Callum Macleod and Rodrigo Baptista getting the nod for July’s twice-around-the-clock race. Morris and Macleod have both represented Bentley customer outfit Team Parker Racing, while Brazilian-born Baptista pilots a Continental GT3 for K-PAX Racing in Blancpain GT World Challenge America.
The fourth Bentley entry will feature a hugely accomplished line-up of GT stars, with Markus Palttala, Alex Buncombe and Lucas Ordonez combining to create a formidable line-up.
Palttala is a Total 24 Hours of Spa winner, having triumphed at the event in 2015, and brings a wealth of Blancpain GT Series experience to the Bentley squad. Buncombe and Ordonez both join following long spells with the Nissan brand, where they established a reputation as fast, reliable and intelligent teammates. Buncombe can also claim a Blancpain Endurance Series title (2015) and a GT4 class victory at the Total 24 Hours of Spa (2011).
Bentley will entrust this roster of drivers as it hunts its maiden win in the Belgian Ardennes, and the first for a British brand in more than three decades. It came desperately close to securing glory in 2017, when the #8 Continental GT3 of Soucek, Soulet and Abril finished just 11 seconds shy of victory.
Preparations for this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa will begin on Monday 22 July, with the first track action taking place the following day. The festivities will continue on Wednesday 24 July with the annual parade to Spa town centre, quickly followed by practice and qualifying on Thursday and Friday (25/26 July).
The race itself will play out across Saturday and Sunday (27/28 July). A host of exciting support series will precede the main event, while further entertainment – including the Fan Zone and music concert – will run throughout the on-track contest.
For Bentley, however, the focus is clearly on the circuit. With its four-strong effort, the British brand has signalled its intent to fight for top spot at the world’s biggest and most competitive GT3 event.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group