Bentley motor sports head Brian Gush recently announced the British carmaker’s plans to field an LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) coupe in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Sports Car Championship are currently on the backburner.
The statement comes after Bentley boss Wolfgang Durheimer said last week that the company is working on an in-house, endurance-race prototype – its first since the Speed 8 Le Mans prototype of the early 2000s. The car will likely use the 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 from the Bentley Continental GT3 and, as per IMSA Daytona Prototype international regulations coming into force in 2017, a chassis from Dallara, Oreca, Riley-Multimatic or Onroak.
“Yes, we would like to do it and, yes, it would make a lot of sense because it is a good fit, but it remains on the backburner,” Gush told Autosport. “We don’t have the planets aligned to get going on it just yet.”
Reports said the program was stopped in the wake of last year’s diesel emissions scandal that engulfed Volkswagen, Bentley’s parent company. The resulting budget cuts have affected the marque’s motor sports endeavors, including that of Porsche and Audi’s joint decision to field two rather than three cars at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year.
“There are a number of things we can’t discuss, but everyone is looking at what is going on with the group,” explained Gush. “At the moment, we are happy to concentrate on GT3 [racing].”
Gush also said the factory M-Sport Bentley team will not run a car at the Nurburgring 24 Hours this May, although he said the decision was not linked to the budget cuts. The team joined forces with the German HTP squad at the Nurburgring last year to field a pair of Continentals under the Bentley Motors banner, but this year the ABT Sportsline team will represent the marque.
“We will just run works-supported cars and ABT knows the place well,” Gush said. “Joining with them was about getting the best team possible.”
ABT Sportsline has multiple DTM (German touring car) championship titles as well as numerous GT and Formula E race wins to its name, and is highly regarded as one of Europe’s leading race preparation outfits.