Dyson Racing to run Bentley’s in Pirelli World Challenge (Update)

UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. After an impressive performance at the opening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series in Monza, Italy last weekend, the new Bentley Continental GT3 is set to reintroduce the celebrated British marque to North American motorsports with Dyson Racing. The premier sports car racing team in the U.S., Dyson will race a pair of Continental GT3s in the second half of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge in preparation for a full season of competition in 2015.

The new partnership returns Bentley to the racetracks of North America for the first time since 2003. The Continental GT3 will be on display on the Bentley stand at the New York International Auto Show on April 16 and 17. Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, comments from the show:

“Now that our European motorsport program is up and running, securing a return to racing in our biggest market is the natural next step. It’s extremely exciting to be back here with a racecar, and I’m delighted to be working with the Dyson team. Their operation reflects and embodies so many Bentley values, and I’m very confident in their abilities. This venture is the next step in the Continental GT3 plan, which we hope will eventually see our customers racing in Bentleys all around the world."

Pending testing and development results, Bentley’s U.S. racing program will begin with the entry of a single Continental GT3 in the Road America round of the Pirelli World Challenge at Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin on June 21. A second car will be added later in the season.

Development work and assignments for the single-driver sprint races will be shared among Chris Dyson and long-time Dyson Racing team members Guy Smith and Butch Leitzinger. The latter are also veteran Bentley Boys, Leitzinger as a driver of the class-winning Bentley EXP-8 at Le Mans in 2001 and 2002, Smith as a driver of the Le Mans overall-winning Bentley Speed 8 in 2003. Smith, who was also a development driver for the current Bentley Continental GT3 program and who is now piloting one in five races of the 2014 European Blancpain Series, will drive with Dyson Racing Team Bentley as his European commitments permit.

Team Principal Rob Dyson comments:

"Our team is proud to be demonstrating to Americans that Bentley is not only one of the great names in automotive history, but also today the producer of the finest high-performance luxury cars available. As Dyson Racing begins its fourth decade in professional motorsports, it’s an honor for all of us on the team to be racing the Continental GT3 with Bentley in the Pirelli World Challenge."

04/14/14 Fresh off its first outing in the Blancpain Endurance Series, the new Bentley Continental GT3 is set to make its North American debut later this year in the Pirelli World Challenge, potentially with one of America’s most successful sports car racing teams.

Multiple sources have confirmed to Sportscar365 that the famed British manufacturer is preparing a two-car PWC effort, with all signs pointing towards Dyson Racing running the FIA GT3-spec machines in the sprint race GT championship.

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson revealed during the Monza weekend that two cars have been sold to a team in the U.S., and while a Bentley spokesperson would not confirm a program, he admitted that they continue to evaluate their options in North America.

Dyson Racing VP and Sporting Director Chris Dyson could not be reached for a comment. The Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based operation, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, has kept its core staff employed despite having yet to announce a program for 2014.

It’s believed that longtime Dyson pilots Guy Smith and Butch Leitzinger could be in the frame for drives, alongside the possibility of Chris Dyson.

Smith, who won the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans with Bentley, is contesting the Blancpain Endurance Series in one of M-Sport’s factory entries, while Leitzinger, who was also part of the manufacturer’s LMP900 program, was on-hand at Monza last weekend as a guest of the team.

The Continental GT3 made its race debut in December’s Gulf 12 Hours at Yas Marina Circuit with Smith and Dyson alumni Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick. Two additional customers programs have been announced for British GT, including one for Kane and another former Dyson driver, Humaid al Masaood.

An official announcement on its PWC program could be made as early as this week. Sportscar365

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