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’.
The current GT3 and its illustrious forebear from 1929 met at Silverstone in front of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), the motorsport organisation founded in 1928 by Bentley Boy and Le Mans winner, Dudley Benjafield.
They may be separated by more than eight decades but the two racing cars share Bentley’s indefatigable passion for innovation, competition and, above all, speed.
Bentley Continental GT3 in 2015 – A Season to Remember
With teams competing on four continents, the Continental GT3 scored multiple pole positions, race wins, podiums and, at the end of the season, won the highly-competitive Blancpain Sprint Series and took the overall team title in the GT Asia Series.
Other highlights from the season include a best-ever finish at the 24 Hours of Spa, a four-car assault on the Nürburgring 24 Hours and successful completion of the grueling Bathurst 12 Hours.
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’
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.
This year 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, with Tim Birkin at the wheel 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’.
Bentley and the British Racing Drivers’ Club
Joseph Dudley Benjafield had a lifelong passion for motorsports. He began racing after purchasing a Bentley 3 Litre in 1924. He had talent, and was quickly offered a drive in Bentley’s company racer. He competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times, and won the event in 1927 with co-driver and fellow Bentley Boy, Sammy Davis.
Benjafield founded the BRDC in 1928. It began primarily as a socialising 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’.
Today the BRDC is, arguably, the most exclusive club in motor racing. With a membership that numbers only 800, it is home to the most successful racing drivers from Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Those who have met the exacting entry criteria have achieved at the highest levels of the sport, or made a significant contribution to enable others to do so.
Note: Press release courtesy of Bentley Motors.