Bentley will return to top-level motorsport

Published: 12 August 2011

Bentley will return to top-level motorsport, new chief executive Wolfgang Durheimer has revealed.

Bentley pulled out of racing after its 2001-2003 stint at Le Mans, culminating in an outright win in its last year at the 24-hour race.

But Durheimer, who was previously Porsche's R&D chief and who now runs the Volkswagen Group's entire motorsport division, is keen that Bentley will return to the track and revive Crewe's long and storied motorsport history.

Bentley: the motorsport plan

'A third of my responsibilities are motorsport,' said Durheimer. 'Before I took over I asked Dr Piech if I could take Bentley back to sport. He said, "Yes - if you are making money".

'Bentley lost money in 2010. But we should make money in 2011, notwithstanding the uncertainty in the financial markets and riots in Britain.'

What form of motorsport could Bentley compete in?

Durheimer, who admitted on a personal level he is most into sports car racing, refused to be drawn on which series Bentley could race in.

'Porsche is returning to Le Mans LMP1 in 2014 and I don't think it's best for Bentley to be back at the same time,' he said. 'I am investigating other alternatives.

'It's too early to talk about our exact motorsport engagement. Bentley has a great heritage in racing.'

What will power racing Bentleys?

Durheimer dropped a few clues, cross-referencing Audi's diesel dominance at La Sarthe. 'In motorsport for the time being, we should not really think of using diesel [he admitted separately that future roadgoing Bentleys will use diesel]. We should underline our competence in core strengths of technology.

'That means 12-cylinder gasoline engines and turbo tech.... And in the future, hybrid technology will become a core racing technology in every racing series.'

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet