Bentley’s powerful twin-turbo 4.0l V8’s proved very potent in the high elevations of Utah as both of Dyson Racing’s entries in the Pirelli World Challenge finished on the podium this weekend.
The first event was Friday afternoon at Miller Motorsports Park. Guy Smith qualified to start 1st in the #88 car, while Butch Leitzinger in the #8 car, qualified 3rd. The race’s standing start proved even more entertaining for viewers than past events as the 2nd place Audi, driven by Mike Skeen, had a halfshaft fail on launch, stalling the car and causing a traffic jam. Surprisingly, most of the GT class was able to avoid each other. At the first turn, #88 had fallen to 6th and #8 had fallen to seventh.
A full course yellow was issued for two Kia’s in the GTS class that had also failed to leave the starting line. In what was extremely frustrating for this race fan, the yellow lasted for THIRTEEN minutes of the fifty minute race. Both Bentley’s did very well on the restart and quickly began climbing up through the field.
Guy Smith would put down the quickest lap of the day on his way to taking first place. Butch Leitzinger was right behind in third place. It was Dyson Racing Team Bentley’s first win and fourth podium of the season.
This set up race number 16 in the Pirelli World Challenge, which was the final race of the season. Based on lap times, #88 was again on the pole and #8 started in 3rd place.
While not without incident, the standing start didn’t trigger any yellow flags. Guy Smith’s car just didn’t accelerate off the green and he quickly fell back in the pack. “The engine overheated on the grid and went into protective limp-home mode, so when we went green, it just would not accelerate,” Smith explained. “By the time I got to the first corner, it had cooled down and it started working again but by then I had fallen to the back of the field.” Smith drove the Bentley hard and made his way back through the field while setting the fastest lap by over 1/2 second.
Leitzinger had a great race, staying near the front pack for most of the race even with front end damage to the #8 Continental GT3. Leitzinger would be in 9th after the start and raced brilliantly including a couple great passes of Lazzaro’s Ferrari 458 Italia and Johnny O’ Connell in his Cadillac CTS-V. Leitzinger would finish in 4th, 2 seconds behind a podium finish. Smith finish in 5th, right behind his teammate.
“We finally got a full race without yellow and the car kept on getting better and better. One of the strengths of the Bentley is how it is easy on the tires, so it’s consistently fast from beginning to end.” – Butch Leitzinger
This weekend was a great conclusion for Bentley to their first 1/2 season in the Pirelli World Challenge. Despite joining the season halfway though, Bentley still finished second in manufacture’s fast laps and third in manufacture’s poles. After the race, Chris Dyson, VP and Sporting Director for Dyson Racing Team Bentley said, “we have proven the pace of the Bentley this season and this weekend and will be testing next month as we already shift our focus to next year.”