New Bentley Continental GT puts on a racing suit

Bentley wasted no time in sending its newest model to the track.

Bentley wasted no time in sending the brand-new second-generation Continental GT to the track. The British company has released the first official images of the GT3 race car it's developing for the 2018 season.

Power comes an evolution of Bentley's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. An engine management system tweaked by Cosworth helps it develop over 550 horsepower, which is plenty in an aluminum-intensive car that weighs under 2,900 pounds. The eight-cylinder turns the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential gearbox.

Engineers stuffed the Continental GT in a wind tunnel and studied it until they designed a race car-specific body kit that provides a significant amount of downforce. The brake and suspension systems are also new, and they're specific to the GT3 model.

"The new car leaves no area or system untouched in the search for even better performance, and the early test results are promising," said Brian Gush, Bentley's director of motorsport.

Already undergoing shakedown testing, the 2018 Bentley Continental GT3 will make its track debut at the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup taking place at the Monza track in Italy next April. Customer sales will kick off the following June. Pricing hasn't been announced yet.

Looking at Bentley's history suggests it's safe to assume we'll see a toned-down, street-legal Continental GT inspired by the GT3 in the coming years. We expect the high-performance model will arrive as a limited-edition model.

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