It’s race day! Bentley Motorsport is back in action today with the first qualifying sessions for the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship. The World Challenge opener is in Austin, Texas, for two races this weekend.
This weekend is Absolute Racing’s U.S. Debut. The Chinese team has had great success in Asia with the Continental GT3, including winning the 2015 GT Asia Series Team Championship with Keita Sawa and Adderly Fong at the wheel.
For their new US venture, Bentley Team Absolute has brought Fong to the US and signed US driver Andrew Palmer. Palmer is young, but has shown great talent behind the wheel. In fact in 2014, Palmer became the youngest Pirelli World Challenge driver to win a race. Following that he hopped over to the TUDOR Championship where he and his co-drivers won the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
This is Fong’s second stint driving in the US. He has driven Formula 3, the GP3 series and won the Audi R8 LMS Cup championship in 2013. He teamed up with Sawa in the GT Asia series last year where the pair faced stiff competition. The pair only locked up the Championship with some great late race driving at the season’s final event.
“We’ve won major international championships in Europe and Asia this year and it is certainly the plan to take a title in America,” said Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush. “Bentley Team Absolute has proven they have what it takes, so we are excited to take our relationship into another continent to take on another challenge.”
The Pirelli World Challenge consists of 20 events. The races are held across the U.S. and Canada at iconic race tracks. For a change this year, the class Bentley races in will not do standing starts, which helps the Continental GT3. The GT3 was built for Europe’s World Endurance Championship and has struggled the last two years to get clean starts, something that is critical in a 50 minute sprint race like the Pirelli World Challenge.
The race version of Bentley’s legendary Continental GT has nearly 600 horsepower from a 4.0l, twin-turbo V8. The street car’s air suspension has been replaced with a full race setup and Bentley and their partner M-Sport have managed to remove 1,000lbs from the car.
This weekend’s races will be delay broadcast on CBS, but you can stream them live on the re-vamped world-challenge.com website. Follow us on Twitter for more coverage of Bentley Team Absolute Racing throughout the weekend.