M-Sport Bentley writes a new piece of Bentley history at Silverstone with a stunning victory at the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series. In only the second competition event for both the Continental GT3 and the new race team, the #7 car driven by Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane drove an astonishing race to take the chequered flag in first place.
After recovering from a drive-through penalty in the first stint that left car #7 in 7th place, a combination of flawless driving and perfect pit-stops allowed Steven Kane to take the lead with just 15 minutes of the three-hour race left. He was then able to manage the pace and maintain a two-second gap to the #99 McLaren of Andy Soucek, eventually leading him across the line to take the chequered flag to the delight of the M-Sport Bentley team and the British fans gathered at the track.
Rolf Frech, Member of the Board for Engineering at Bentley, comments:
“We knew our Continental GT3 was a potential race winner, but to finish first in only the car’s second race in the series feels very special. Bentley has a history of winning, and today we’ve written the start of the next chapter in our long history. The victory today is the result of an outstanding effort by the whole team, and is the reward for a great deal of hard work since the first round at Monza.”
Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, adds:
“That was a hard-fought race. When Guy took the drive-through penalty in the first hour, we knew we had the pace to get back on the podium, and we were determined to do so. The car was very strong, the drivers were impeccable and the pit stop crew recorded their best ever times – including their practices over the last month! The Continental GT3’s strength is in long, fast corners, and our pace here will hopefully translate in to good speed at the other rounds of the championship. In the meantime, a maiden victory at the home of British motorsport feels fantastic.”
Steven Kane was behind the wheel for the final stint and took the chequered flag. He comments:
“Today has been epic. We didn’t get any real dry running done yesterday because of the weather, so we were relieved when we set good times in qualifying this morning. In the race, the car was fantastic, especially with how well it looked after its tyres. That gave me the grip and traction I needed to take the lead in to Brooklands, and after that we knew we could hold first place. Standing on the top step of the podium with Guy and Andy was a very, very special moment and I now know I can call myself a true Bentley Boy.”
The second M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 of Jérôme D’Ambrosio, Duncan Tappy and Antoine Leclerc had a tougher afternoon. Starting from P14, Jérôme was hit by another car and forced off the track on the third lap, sustaining a puncture. The ensuing pit stop dropped the #8 Bentley to 42nd place, but over the rest of the race the car was able to recover to finish in 15th – a great result given the poor start.
The Story of the Race
The two M-Sport Bentleys started the race in 4th and 14th. As the race began, Guy Smith was able to move the #7 car up to 2nd, while Jérôme took #8 to P12. Contact with a BMW Z4 GT3 forced Jérôme off the track, with the car puncturing its right-left tyre. The slow in-lap and pit-stop cost time, and the car returned to the track in 42nd place.
On lap 15, while fighting through traffic, Guy was boxed-in by backmarkers, allowing the McLaren in 3rd to move in front. A few laps later, both Bentleys were given drive-through penalties for improving their sector times while a yellow flag was in force. This dropped Guy in the #7 car to P7. The cars pitted sequentially on lap 31, with Andy Meyrick and Duncan Tappy taking control of cars #7 and #8 respectively. The pit stops were fast enough to bring #7 out in 5th place, while #8 re-joined in P26.
In his stint, Andy Meyrick was able to move quickly up to 3rd place on lap 38, and after closing a 27-gap then made a stunning move to take 2nd place from Gregoire Demoustier in the McLaren. He made his pit stop a few laps later on lap 54, handing the car over to Steven Kane. Duncan Tappy pitted on lap 61 having moved up several places, and Antoine Leclerc was able to make further progress in the final stint to finish 15th.
Steven’s stint began with a charge in to the 21-second lead of the #99 McLaren. Having closed the gap to 17 seconds, the safety car was deployed, compressing the field. At the restart on lap 67, traffic meant that Steven had a 6.5 second gap to the leader, but with less than 15 minutes to go Steven had caught the McLaren and made his move up the inside through the Brooklands complex. He crossed the line six laps later to take an historic win for M-Sport Bentley.
The team now looks forward to the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, to be held at Paul Ricard on Saturday 28th June.