Bentley was back in action at Silverstone just one week after the grueling 24 hour race at the Nürburgring. Both factory supported efforts, HTP Motorsport and M-Sport, participated in the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series. For Bentley it was a homecoming of sorts as this was the first race on English soil and the place that the Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 took home first place last year.
For Bentley Team HTP, the race didn’t treat them as nicely as Nürburgring did. After an eight place finish the previous weekend, the #84 Continental GT3 would have to be retired prematurely due to a brake malfunction and subsequent tire failure.
Vincent Abril starte 20th out of 60 cars. He worked his way up two positions before coming to for a pit stop and driver change 40 minutes in to the race. Mike Parisy took over driving and left the pits in 18th, but had to return immediately due to the punctured tire.
“It is extremely unfortunate that we retired and could not show the great performance of our car at Silverstone”, Bentley Team HTP team principal Norbert Brückner said after the race. “We had a good race speed and after we changed strategy, we had a fair chance for a top result.”
Of the sudden end to his turn in the car, Mike Parisy said, “The early retirement is very disappointing. We had a great car, an excellent strategy and all chances for a good result.”
Bentley Team M-Sport fared much better than the 24 hours of Nürburgring where they saw damage to both of their Continental GT3s which kept the cars out of the lead pack. The team won at Silverstone in 2014 and was feeling the pressure to repeat coming in to the event.
The #8 Continental GT3 started from seventeenth with Maxime Soulet at the wheel. HE moved up to eighth by lap 17. As most of the field pitted during a full course yellow, Soulet stayed out and moved up to sixth before pitting. Maxi Buhk would take over driving at that point and held sixth until Andy Soucek would take over on lap 53.
Soucek exited the pits in 12th, moving up to seventh before being penalized for contact with another car. The resulting drive through penalty left the #8 in eighth place. From there Soucek was able to gain two more positions and finished sixth.
The #7 Continental GT3 started in ninth position. With Guy Smith at the wheel, the car gained five places and when he pitted on lap 31, was in fourth position. The car was struck with some bad luck on that pit stop as a wheel nut failed. It cost the team 30 seconds to fixe and when Andy Meyrick leaf the pits, he was in 24th.
Meyrick had a good stint and was able to move up to 16th. From there, Steven Kane took over and moved the car up through the field to 9th, which is where the race ended.
After the race, Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, said, “Like the Nürburgring 24 Hours last weekend, this was a race where the pace of our cars was not equalled by our luck. Car #7 was very unfortunate in the first pit stop – the right-rear wheel nut failed to engage and had to be replaced – but as always Andy, Steven and Guy were insatiable in their appetite for a top ten result. Car #8 had a better race, and while Maxime drove an amazing stint I was disappointed in Andy’s penalty. Still, we’ll take two top-ten finishes, and look to build on this in a few weeks in the third round at Paul Ricard.”
Bentley Team M-Sport returns to the track on 19th June, for the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard. Before then, Bentley Team HTP will race at Zolder in the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Red Bull Ring in ADAC GT Masters.