The annual Pikes Peak hill climb event is fast approaching, and while the COVID-19 pandemic forced contenders to sit out the 2020 event in their garages, the 2021 event promises to continue its wild ways. Bentley is one of the teams competing in this year’s event and has prepared a special Continental GT3 to try and plant their bespoke flag at the event.
A Different Breed Of Continental
The Continental GT3 might have originally started life as a luxury-filled coupe, but Bentley engineers have transformed the car into a potent track weapon, with the British luxury carmaker claiming that it aims to set a brand new climb record in the Time Attack 1 class. Before we get into the performance modifications that this Bentley brings to the table, we might as well talk about its track-ready exterior styling, and there’s plenty to talk about here. Handling and the tried and true adage of bigger is better running rampant here with the front fascia featuring a massive two-plane front splitter that comes with huge dive planes. The piece is comically large, but Bentley’s reps revealed that there’s nothing funny about the insane levels of downforce it brings to the front of the car.
A larger rear diffuser is inserted into the back, but this piece only serves as a precursor to the massive wing that Bentley designers have placed on the trunk. This massive wing is larger than the one you’ll find on your friend’s Honda Civic, and Bentley claims that the wing is one of the largest that the company has ever fitted to one of its race-focused machines. So what on earth do you get with all of these massive add-ons? The answer is downforce, with the Continental GT3 producing 30 percent more downforce than its road-going cousin. With the Pikes Peak course focusing on handling prowess versus outright speed, Bentley engineers wanted to ensure that the car could stick on the road even in the sharpest of turns.
Beware Pike’s Peak, Mr. Hyde Has Arrived
With all the updates made to the exterior, it should come as no surprise that the Continental GT3 brings some potent firepower to the iconic climb. The GT3 shares the road car’s 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8, but it makes more power with the hill climber producing 750 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. That’s an insane amount of power, but the crazy thing here is that’s not even final, with Bentley claiming that it will try to extract even more power and performance from the engine.
We’re confident that they can deliver the goods, especially with some of the custom touches that the engine received just for the hill climb. They include new pistons and stronger connecting rods, and larger turbochargers that now produce 31.9 psi of boost. The intake manifold is made out of pure carbon fiber while the Akrapovic sourced exhaust system not only features an Inconel component that was 3D printed but also ditches the traditional rearward exit point with the pipes actually extending out behind the front wheels. Pikes Peak is typically not known for being a sight-seers event, so Bentley pitched the useless rear windows and added ducts that help channel cool air to the engine.
These ducts also form an essential lynchpin for the rear-mounted cooling system, which even comes with an auxiliary water pump to help boost the amount of cooling that the engine has on hand when pushed to its limit. In addition, the Continental GT3 uses a specialized race fuel called 98-RON, which is a carefully concocted blend of biofuels designed not only to maximize performance but also to help the big Bentley be more friendly to the environment.
A Familiar Name Will Pilot The Continental GT3
With all the performance on hand, the company knew that it would need a talented driver to help get the car up the hill. That’s why Bentley enlisted the services of Pikes Peak veteran Rhys Millen to ensure a flawless hill climb. Millen has drifted between various brands over the years, but this is not the first time Rhys has driven for the British automaker. Millen first collaborated with Bentley in 2018 when he drove the Bentayga SUV up the hill before repeating a similar feat a year later with the Continental GT.
As the name implies, the Time Attack class is all about achieving a perfect balance of speed and handling, which is important on some of the winding turns drivers have to encounter. As mentioned, Bentley is going all out to snatch the record from rivals, and that means Rhys Millen has to get the car through the entire course in just under 9 minutes and 36 seconds. While that might seem like a cakewalk at first glance, the high speeds and some of the turns involved amp up the difficulty, and Bentley will have a formidable challenge on their hands.
The 2021 Pikes Peak hill climb will take place on June 27th. It’s unknown when the souped-up Bentley will do the climb, but we’ll certainly keep an eye out for it through the official live stream for the event.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.