Bentley Motorsport is contesting a specially prepared Continental GT at the 2020 GP Ice Race in the Austrian town of Zell am See this weekend. Following on the British brand’s history of setting Ice Speed Records in 2007 and 2011, the W12-powered Continental GT is ready to continue Bentley’s heritage of high performance on ice at the spectacular showcase event.
The Ice Race Continental GT will be running in livery that pays homage to its record-breaking compatriot from the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2019 and shares the same factory-built W12 twin-turbocharged TSI engine.
The 6.0-litre unit delivers 635 ps/900 Nm and is claimed to be able to go from standstill to 100 km/h in 3 seconds, and then on to a top speed of 333 km/h. The car’s 3-chamber air springs, 48V active anti-roll control system and iron brakes are entrusted with keeping the car running at its best on the purpose-built ice track.
Junior World Rally Championship driver Catie Munnings will be at the wheel of the Continental GT in Zell am See. The FIA European Rally Championship Ladies Trophy winner, former host of the CBeebies television programme ‘Catie’s Amazing Machines’ and daughter of a former rally driver, will be the first female driver of the modern era to competitively race for Bentley Motorsport.
“The opportunity to race with Bentley at Zell am See is one that I couldn’t miss. I’m completely blown away by the car, and I actually still can’t believe I’m getting let loose in a Bentley to do an ice race. I spent some time on ice in the car just before Christmas. At first, I thought it would feel heavy, but I was amazed by how dynamic, nimble and responsive it is. It can dance like a lightweight rally car, and I can’t wait to race it at such an iconic event,” she said earlier in the week.
The car has been kept as close to production standard as possible, with minimal changes for safety compliance including a rear roll cage, on-board fire suppression system, racing seats and harnesses. Modifications beyond standard include an increase to the nominal ride height to give greater ground clearance, arch extensions to accommodate a 15 mm increase in track width, studded Pirelli Scorpion Ice Zero2 tyres, a row of Lazer high-performance lights, and a custom exhaust system from Akrapovic. The roof has a bespoke rack, fitted with a pair of Bomber for Bentley Centenary Edition skis.
Consisting of two days of motorsport in unpredictable conditions, the GP Ice Race was first run in 1937 and revived last year. The event features an array of historic and modern race and rallycars. Entrants compete in various vehicle categories over a 600-metre frozen racetrack carved from the snow, and involves two tests – standard racing, and an exhibition of skijoring. Skijoring is a competition whereby a skier is towed by a car over a track of snow and ice, and dates back to the Olympic Winter Games 1928 in St. Moritz, when skiers were drawn by riderless horses.