It wasn’t just one Bentley that ran strong at Monza, it was three. The three hour endurance race was the first in Europe for the Blancpain Endurance Series and all participants were excited to kick off the tour.
The three cars and nine drivers for today’s event:
- Car #7 – M-Sport Team Bentley Merick, Smith, and Kane, M-Sport Team Bentley
- Car #8 – Maximilian Buhk, Maxime Soulet, Andy Soucek, M-Sport Team Bentley
- Car #84 – Harold Primat, Vincent Abril, Mike Parisy, Bentley Team HTP
The weekend started with qualifying on Saturday where Bentley fared well. These GT3 cars are pretty sorted out and there exist only small areas of advantage from marque to marque. Therefore, putting down a good qualifying time is depended on car set up and driver execution, and all three Bentley teams did well.
Bentley Continental GT3 Qualifying Results:
- Car #84, P5 – Harold Primat, Vincent Abril, Mike Parisy, Bentley Team HTP – 1:48.671
- Car #7, P10 – Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick, Steven Kane, M-Sport Bentley – 1:49.678
- Car #8, P35 – Maximilian Buhk, Maxime Soulet, Andy Soucek, M-Sport Bentley – 1:48.741
Race conditions were very good in Italy at race start. Guy Smith drove the opening stint in car #7, climbing four places at the start to sit P6 before snatching P5 by lap 10. Andy Meyrick took over from Guy after an hour, driving a solid stint that saw him pit from P7 to hand the car to Steven Kane. Steven immediately set to work, taking P6 before being spun off the track after being hit from behind by a competitor. Fortunately, he rejoined without issue and maintained the place, and was able to finish provisional P4 overall and second-in-class.
Car #8 had a more eventful race, but still managed to finish in the top 10 in class and earn valuable championship points. Maxi Buhk started the race, climbing all the way to P19 in his stint before a right rear puncture forced him to pit several laps early. Maxime Soulet replaced Maxi behind the wheel, and drove an exceptional stint to climb to P10 overall. Andy Soucek took control with an hour left in the race, climbing to P9 early in his stretch. Unfortunately, more bad luck was to hit car #8, after two different competitors forced Andy off the track, costing him places. The eventual, provisional result of P12 overall was sweetened by being eigth-in-class place and so scoring four valuable championship points.
Car #84 had a great start, but a disappointing finish. During the first two of three hours, the Car #84 was running in the top 10. Hour three proved disastrous as the Bentley fell victim to contact when a McLaren hit the Continental GT3 with Parisy at the wheel. This denied Bentley Team HTP the chance of a possible top result and championship points.
Here is how the three Bentley’s finished:
- Car #7, P5 – Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick, Steven Kane, M-Sport Bentley – 1:49.763 fast lap
- Car #8, P13 – Maximilian Buhk, Maxime Soulet, Andy Soucek, M-Sport Bentley – 1:49.961 fast lap
- Car #84, P47 – Harold Primat, Vincent Abril, Mike Parisy, Bentley Team HTP – 1:49.924 fast lap
“This is the start to our season that we were looking for. We’ve spent the off-season focusing on the setup of the Continental GT3, and we’re now seeing the results of those efforts.” Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport
It was a great day and at the end of the day, we do this for fun, right?
Source: Blancpain Endurance Series, Bentley Motors, and HTP Motorsports
Photo Credit: Bentley Motors, “Selfie Photo” & “Tire Change” by Olivier Beroud