Bentley Team M-Sport made an impressive debut at the famous Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, Australia, taking a fourth-place finish after twelve hours of incredibly close racing.
Continental GT3 car 10, driven by the British trio of Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Matt Bell drove a strong race to take the lead in the final hour, only to be defeated in the final two laps by the Nissan Car 35. Driving the final stint, Matt Bell managed to hold second place until the last corner, when he was forced off line by two bouts of contact from chasing cars, ultimately crossing the line in fourth place.
Rolf Frech, Bentley’s Member of the Board for Engineering, comments:
“I’m very pleased with the performance that the team has showed. The pace of the cars, the efficiency of the pit crew and the speed of the drivers bodes well for the season ahead.”
Bentley’s sister Car 11, driven by Andy Soucek, Maximilian Buhk and Harold Primat, endured a tougher race. Having made progress in the opening hours of the race, Car 11 climbed from 21st place on the grid to be racing in the top ten. A series of drive-through penalties cost time, dropping the car down the order, until a failure in the closing hour caused by rear-end contact.
However, for new Bentley Boys Andy and Maxi, who will drive together all season, the race was a great opportunity to compete together for the first time alongside the drivers of car number 10.
Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, further comments:
“We came to Bathurst to show the pace of the Continental GT3 over one of the toughest endurance races in the world. While we’ll leave here knowing we’ve succeeded in that mission, and proud of finishing in the top five, we also know it could’ve and should’ve been more. The Bentley Boys drove an outstanding race and it’s very tough to see their efforts undone on the closing lap by what appeared to be unsportsmanlike driving.”
Guy Smith, Bentley Boy driving in Car 10, reflects on his race:
“This race has got to be one of the most exciting of my career. It wasn’t like an endurance race – it was more like a 12-hour sprint. We’ve learnt so much this weekend and will make sure we’re even stronger for the start of our European season at Monza.”
Matt Bell, who drove Car 10 to a tensely contested finish, says:
“It was amazing to come here with Bentley and we put on a great show. This was my first race in the Continental GT3 and I’m thoroughly impressed with the car that Bentley Team M-Sport has developed. Guy and Steven were amazing throughout the race, and put me in a position where I could battle right to the last corner.”
Driver of Car 11, Andy Souzek adds:
“The weekend has been tough and we were obviously hoping for a better result. However, there are a lot of positives to take from here – we arrived at a new circuit for the car, adapted quickly, and had really good pace. That gives me confidence for the season and I’m really looking to getting started with the Blancpain Endurance Series.”