Bentley working on electric Continental GT3
Bentley has built an electric version of its Continental GT3 racer as part of an evaluation of the FIA's new Electric GT Championship set to go live in 2023.
Motorsport.com has learned that Ray Mallock Limited is working on a Continental development car for Bentley built to the eGT regulations, which were released to interested parties by the FIA as early as last December.
The Bentley test car exploits a route into eGT allowing a manufacturer to take an existing GT3 contender and fit it with electric motors and a battery.
Bentley has confirmed the existence of the car, but stressed that no decision has been made on entering a championship that is set to begin in 2023 with a short series of races.
"It would be stupid if we hadn't done something like that," Bentley motorsport boss Paul Williams told Motorsport.com when asked about the development car.
"We are part of the eGT working group, and we've done some desktop studies and some stuff in real-world hardware."
Asked if the car had run on track, Williams replied: "I wouldn't possibly be able to say."
It is known that the test car is based on the first-generation Continental GT3, which began racing in 2013 and was replaced by the second iteration of the car for 2018.
RML is a logical partner given its electric-vehicle experience: it developed the Nissan ZEOD RC hybrid that raced at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the 'Garage 56' slot in 2014 and also the EP9 sportscar for Chinese manufacturer NIO that briefly held the EV record on the Nurburgring-Nordschleife.
Williams suggested that eGT does not "tick all the boxes" for a manufacturer that has laid down a vision to build only electric road cars cars by 2030 under its Beyond 100 strategy.
Bentley has insisted it will return to motorsport after starting a wind-down of the Continental GT3 programme last year, but stated that a decision on its future direction is not imminent.
"Everything we are looking at has certain compromises, disadvantages as well as advantages," he explained.
"Endurance racing is our heritage: that's what we love and what appeals to us as a brand."
Races lasting approximately 45 minutes with a mandatory pitstop to top up the charge of the battery are envisaged for the eGT series, which was formally announced in May.
Williams stated that this duration doesn't satisfy the endurance racing criterion for a manufacturer that has won Le Mans six times, most recently in 2003 with the Speed 8 GTP prototype.
"If there was a fully electric endurance option that is where we would probably be," he said.
"We are not overly convinced by any option right now to make us dive into a programme tomorrow."
Bentley is still casting its net wide while plotting its next step in motorsport, according to Williams.
He has explained that the LMDh prototype class is "not completely off the table, but not a key consideration" and described the alternative Le Mans Hypercar route back to Le Mans as "always an option".
Brabham Automotive joins European GT2 Series
Macau F3 and GT World Cup races cancelled again