Although the name Bentley is synonymous with luxury and opulence today, the British marque has a distinguished motorsport legacy. From the 4½ Litre to the Speed Six and the Speed 8, there has been many an illustrious model that won racing accolades for the brand over the years. The first-generation Continental GT3 endurance racer was no different, scoring 120 podiums and 45 wins across 528 races around the world. Now, the Crewe carmaker wants to take this record to the next level with the all-new second-generation Continental GT3 that was reveled earlier this week.

The new car has been developed jointly by engineers of Bentley Motorsport’s in-house team based in Crewe, together with designers and technicians at their motorsport technical partner, M-Sport. Based on the latest Continental GT road car, the already lightweight aluminium structure has been tweaked to achieve a race-ready weight of “significantly less than” 1,300 kg.

“After four years of success with our Continental GT3, we’re excited to reveal our second-generation car.The new car leaves no area or system untouched in the search for even better performance, and the early test results are promising,” says Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush. “The new Continental GT road car has proved to be a great starting point for the development of a new racer, and the engineering development work is true to Bentley’s impeccable standards,” he adds.

The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 gets a totally redesigned dry sump system and all-new intake and exhaust systems to deliver 550bhp of power. While the exterior is also based on the road car, the GT3’s aerodynamics have been enhanced with additional panels and extensions for increased downforce. These include carbon fibre front splitter, rear wing and body panels, lightweight, aerodynamically-optimised bumpers, bonnet, sills and fenders. It also gets new, bespoke suspension and braking systems. It will also feature an FIA-specification steel roll cage, six-point FIA safety harness, onboard fire extinguisher, and onboard pneumatic jack system.

The racer is now undergoing a six-month test programme in preparation for next year’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and the four-round Intercontinental GT Challenge. Bentley Motorsport will run a pair of new Continental GT3 racers across Europe after its race debut at the opening round of the Blancpain Cup at Monza in April 2018. Customer sales will start in June 2018.