- Bentley Motorsport finishes the Bathurst 12 Hours in third place
- The #10 Continental GT3 completes 297 laps of Mount Panorama
- Bentley is the only GT manufacturer to have all entries cross the line
Bentley Motorsport finished the Bathurst 12 Hours in third place with its #10 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3. Piloted by Guy Smith (GB), Steven Kane (GB) and Matt Bell (GB), the car completed 297 laps of 6.2km long circuit and led for just over an hour.
The identical #31 car, which also led the race, finished in seventh place making the brand the only GT manufacturer to cross the line with all of its entries, after 12 hours of challenging but reliable racing for the Continental GT3s.
Having qualified solidly amongst the top Michelin runners in 7th (#10) & 8th (#31) the team were confident of a strong race.
Steven Kane #10: “It’s not first but we’re really happy to be one of the front-running cars on Michelin Tyres. We knew those on Pirellis would be quicker over a lap but we’re confident we’ll have better race pace.”
— Bathurst 12 Hour (@Bathurst12hour) February 7, 2016
The race would be a war of attrition, and not only for the Bentley squad. It would however be a race defined by how each Bentley recovered from punctures. Steven Kane was at the wheel of the #10 when it suffered a puncture early on in the race. Vitally he stayed on the lead lap despite having to pit for tyres and what followed was a very impressive recovery drive from the #10 as they fought their way back to the podium.
The #31 was not so lucky. It also suffered a puncture on the mountain, but after pitting for new Michelins Dave Russell was forced to return to the pits as damaged bodywork on the front right hand side of the Bentley caused another puncture. A disastrous few laps for the #31. At times they would lap quicker than any other car on the track but the damage was done. Tape would be the order of the day from that point on and it would later get a black flag for lose body work. Mount Panorama takes no prisoners.
Matt Bell #10: “It feels great to be on the podium. It’s especially rewarding as we missed out so narrowly last year. The car was fantastic all week. When you are on a track as demanding as this, you need to have confidence in your car so you can keep pushing throughout.”
Steven Kane #10: “Third place is a fantastic finish but when you come here and have a really strong week, you become focused on the win. In the middle of the race, we had the potential to challenge for the win but, by the end, we just didn’t have the pace.”
Guy Smith #10: “We’re really happy to get a podium for Bentley. The car is a real fan favourite and we’ve had so much support for both of our entries. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our week here in Bathurst and we’ll definitely be back next year!”
Maxime Soulet #31: “It’s a disappointing race for us but we had the car to win. My team did a great job and the Bentley Continental GT3 was alongside the competition all weekend.
“A podium finish in just our second year racing here at Mount Panorama Circuit is a great achievement,” commented Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush. “Both of our cars have completed 12 hours of extremely demanding and competitive racing without any reliability issues.
“Staying out of trouble on the mountain is difficult and we fell foul of some incidents but the crew fought hard to keep us going and completed some very impressive pit stops.
“It’s good to take a haul of points forward into the 2016 SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge and we look forward to continuing with the new series at Spa 24 Hours in July.”
The Bathurst 12 Hours is the opening round of the new-for-2016 SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge, which also comprises the Spa 24 Hours and the Sepang 12 Hours.
Bentley Motorsport will continue its 2016 programme with the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series. Follow the team on Twitter using @BentleyRacing.