With the chequered flag set to fall on the 2015 motorsport season, Bentley is celebrating a remarkable run of results by bringing together two generations of racer – the Continental GT3 and legendary 4.5 Litre ‘Blower’ Bentley.
The current GT3 and its illustrious forebear from 1929 met at Silverstone in front of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), the motorsport organization founded in 1928 by Bentley Boy and Le Mans winner, Dudley Benjafield. Benjafield founded the BRDC in 1928. It began primarily as a socializing club for him and his fellow drivers, but by the time of its inauguration the 25 original members had devised a set of objectives for the club, including ‘to extend hospitality to racing drivers from overseas’.
In just its second year of competition in GT racing, the Bentley motorsports program has gone from strength to strength in 2015. With Bentley teams competing on four continents, the Continental GT3 scored multiple pole positions, race wins and podiums. To cap off the racing season, Bentley had won the highly-competitive Blancpain Sprint Series and took the overall team title in the GT Asia Series.
With a driver line-up featuring Le Mans winner, Guy Smith, former BRDC Young Driver of the Year, Steven Kane, and 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series champion, Vincent Abril, next year’s racing promises to be even more fruitful.
Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, said: “As the team prepares for another exciting racing season in 2016, it’s rewarding to look back on 2015 and to see how far we’ve come. We’re racing on four continents in the world’s largest and most competitive GT races and series. From Bathurst to Silverstone and Macau to Monterey, we’re competing with the best that GT racing has to offer.”
The Birkin ‘Blower’ is one of just five ever made for racing, the Blower was used by the original Bentley racing team – the Bentley Boys – of the late 1920s, and is still performing over eight decades later. 2015 marks the 85th anniversary of the Woolf Barnato and Glen Kidston Le Mans victory in 1930. While the supercharged Blower wasn’t the winning car that day, it was Tim Birkin at the wheel and its heroic performance embodies the true spirit of the vintage racing era.
In the 1930 race, Birkin and his Blower diced for the lead with Mercedes ace, Rudi Carracciola, passing him flat out down the Hunaudières straight with his nearside wheels on the grass. Birkin successfully pushed the Mercedes to breaking point, but also had to retire with six hours to go, and the race was eventually won by Barnato and Kidston in their Speed Six.
Featuring its original Vanden Plas Open Sports four-seat body, the Blower was described by Autocar magazine in September 1930 as having ‘the appeal of immense power, linked with great docility’.
The race cars may be separated by more than eight decades but the two vehicles share Bentley’s indefatigable passion for innovation, competition and, above all, speed.
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