The engineering staff at M-Sport actually did work wonders with its first-ever entry into circuit racing as a designer, builder and race staff.
By HEATH McALPINE
It was a large activity to show what was in impact a yacht with four-wheels, the Bentley Continental, into not solely a aggressive GT3 automotive, but additionally a race winner.
The M-Sport staff, higher identified for its ultra-fast rally automobiles, seems set to proceed this with the most recent technology of Bentley’s GT3 hero automotive.
On the current Bathurst 12 Hour, Bentley was effectively in competition for a lot of the day. Nonetheless, a little bit of unhealthy luck and a few errors, which marred the staff’s 2018 Blancpain GT marketing campaign, noticed the large British brutes finally play little greater than a supporting position.
It was M-Sport’s first journey to The Mountain with the brand new automotive however the present specification Continental GT3 already had an entire season of Blancpain GT below its belt, plus a variety of one-off races at quite a lot of venues worldwide.
Reflecting on the automotive’s debut season, driver Steven Kane felt there have been loads of missed alternatives for the automotive to take its first victory, however the Brit is assured that this season will present the breakthrough.
“We’ve been in a position to race it effectively (however) we’ve had some misfortune with driver errors and different errors that didn’t get us outcomes we deserved. There’s fairly a number of instances the place luck wasn’t on our facet,” Kane lamented.
“Spa, we must always have received it, we had the automotive, each automobiles, we had the velocity and I simply picked up a little bit of particles damaging the entrance radiator, simply foolish stuff like that. This yr is a full-on assault to attempt to win races and win championships.”
It’s the identical opinion that was conveyed by Chief Engineer Christian Loriaux, as the priority isn’t a lot automotive tempo however minimising the problems that the staff final yr.
“We didn’t have that a lot of a profitable yr, our greatest end was second at Paul Ricard, we didn’t win any race. However we had a number of superb races and I believe nobody made a greater comeback than us all season,” Loriaux informed Auto Motion.
“We had a number of instances the place we began from the pit lane or fairly far again and we’d find yourself near the rostrum so the tempo has been good, (nonetheless) the reliability and staff had some unhealthy luck, however we’re getting there.”
GT3 has moved alongside significantly since Bentley debuted the older-generation Continental GT3 in 2014, a lot of this was led by the M-Sport staff.
When it developed the earlier mannequin for racing it had a number of work to do and moved the goalposts significantly, turning into the primary producer to dramatically change the way in which GT3 automobiles had been developed, as Loriaux defined.
“Clearly, once we had been growing the previous automotive it was fairly a step. Earlier than that, all of the GT3 automobiles had been much more intently associated to the street automobiles and when the Bentley got here out everybody was shocked by it.
“Everybody mentioned, ‘that wouldn’t work’, however clearly Bentley and M-Sport pushed the boundaries with the rules, I believe a number of different producers (then) realised what they might do with the rules, the place we will take it.
“The previous Bentley kicked that off, so when a number of the opposite producers like Audi and Mercedes went and did their Evo 2 model of their GT3 automobiles, they had been much more superior than the previous ones.”
In contrast to the unique Continental GT3, this new automotive was developed alongside a brand new street mannequin which means that most of the points and difficulties that had been encountered initially throughout the growth run of the primary technology had been eliminated, leaving M-Sport to deal with enhancing each element on the automotive, the primary aim being 50-50 weight distribution.
“It’s a a lot better platform to construct a race automotive from. The chassis is totally completely different, the way in which it’s manufactured, it fits extra of a race automotive growth on it,” Loriaux continued.
“We began operating the previous automotive and by doing that we learnt its limitations, we knew what we had to enhance and the primary factor we had to enhance was weight distribution, to get the burden in the direction of the again and nonetheless save weight to make the automotive lighter.
“That makes the little particulars higher. The truth that you’ve received the chance to do a brand new automotive means that you can try this, as a result of to realize three, 4, 5 % of weight distribution additional to the again, now we’re near (the) 50-50 it’s essential overview every thing.
“The brand new automotive with the bodyshell has received a totally new platform so that permits us inside the restrict of the rules to maneuver the engine to a greater place, however as effectively we made a brand new transmission that’s nonetheless transaxle, which is best for weight distribution.”
Bentley’s dedication to GT3 racing is demonstrated with the developments in its street automotive, because the producer has moved away from focusing solely on luxurious fashions by additionally growing the efficiency facet of the automotive as effectively. As talked about, M-Sport’s engineering staff had a greater base to work off, beginning with a a lot lighter shell.
“The brand new Bentley is usually an aluminium bodyshell, it’s aluminium and metal, in order that’s allowed us to save lots of fairly a little bit of weight, so we benefitted from the brand new know-how of the street automotive,” Loriaux informed Auto Motion.
“We performed a brand new aero program so we improved the aero. We labored on suspension geometry, the place we needed it to go, so it’s allowed us to enhance every thing actually. The large factor is the burden distribution, the engine is just about the identical. That’s the place we nibbled and tried to make each little factor higher, centre of gravity is decrease, weight distribution is a giant enchancment for the again finish of the automotive, the automotive is rather more environment friendly than the previous automotive.”
The improved aero program has developed a wild package for the Continental GT3 with a tall rear wing, intensive rear diffuser, low facet skirts and re-designed entrance bumper, which maximises the cooling by quite a lot of vents and grills. It additionally incorporates a widened stance, offering an all-over extra aggressive look and all made out of sunshine carbon fibre.
The engine is one space that has skilled restricted change led by M-Sport’s Nigel Armfield, who has developed most of the staff’s World Rally Championship engines from scratch. A redesigned dry sump to once more enhance weight distribution, and re-designed consumption and exhaust programs, allow the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 to pump out 550bhp unrestricted. Nonetheless, turbo restrictors are positioned as a part of the Steadiness of Efficiency measures which are imposed on every GT3 mannequin.
The gearbox is a six-speed sequential unit designed in a three way partnership between M-Sport and Ricardo. This was a brand new partnership between the 2 and the primary of a variety of key provider modifications between the 2 fashions.
“The transmission, we had been with xTrac with the previous automotive, however for the brand new automotive we needed to do extra and the xTrac transmission was just about a normal transmission,” defined Loriaux. “We went to Ricardo and we designed a field, so a staff of designers with Ricardo designed our personal gearbox structure.
“We knew we wanted to succeed in the goal we had, we knew we needed to design a really completely different transmission and xTrac don’t work like that. We all the time design the transmission ourselves to essentially go well with the automotive and we’d like a provider to make that work.
“We’ve received a great relationship with Ricardo and good success, that’s for positive. However on high of that, we mentioned to them we’re supplying you with an opportunity, however we would like the value to be proper.”
The dampers had been additionally one other main element to alter, a scarcity of manoeuvrability from Ohlins offered Penske with its probability as Loriaux has labored intently to develop a four-way adjustable damper particular to the Bentley.
“Should you take a look at the dampers, it’s a basic one the place Ohlins, not unhealthy dampers, however once I requested them to make a change, I mentioned I needed this and this and this completely different to eradicate these issues eternally, and so they mentioned ‘Nah, that is the way in which it really works, we don’t need to change,’ and I mentioned we needed completely different and so they responded ‘Nah, nah it really works effective,” mentioned Loriaux.
“I began talking to Penske, I mentioned, ‘Look guys, that is your probability if you wish to soar in, however you must do precisely what we would like and never what you may have on the shelf’. Tune with bits and bods to suit, (however) I needed the factor made precisely for us to the specs and so they excepted.
“However the dampers are costlier so to compensate we’ve one thing that’s completely good. The very first thing is all the time getting the fitting specification, if you are able to do that and drop the value then you definitely’ve received much more probability to go there. If not and it’s higher, you continue to have to just accept to pay the value.”
It is a philosophy that’s carried all through the automotive with Alcon six-piston entrance and four-piston rear callipers and ventilated discs changing the Brembo items from the earlier technology. The rim model has additionally been modified from OZ to BBS to align with Bentley’s street automotive division, the one a part of the automotive that’s dictated by any industrial relationship the producer has.
“Technically we need to have the perfect automotive, that’s step one, so often we attempt to work with an organization that’s extra open to develop a product particularly for us,” Loriaux mentioned.
The redesigned cooling system will be attributed to a widely known Australian enterprise. PWR provide a lot of the motorsport world’s cooling wants, however Loriaux has been a loyal buyer to the model even earlier than the corporate grew to what it’s now.
“I used to be one of many first to start out with them in my earlier job at Subaru 15-20 years (in the past), I began working with them earlier than anybody knew about them, now each System 1 staff use them, MotoGP.”
The inside is highlighted by a System 1-style steering wheel, and a body-hugging race seat and harness that has been moved in the direction of the centre of the cabin barely. There’s additionally a rear-view digital camera which is now important for all GT3 automobiles, because the imaginative and prescient out the rear of those autos has turn into more and more impaired. In one other instance of Bentley working to develop a product with a provider, it paired with Bosch on its digital energy steering system, a proud achievement for the staff because the German firm was initially reluctant to get entangled.
The expansion of GT3 has been important and can proceed to be as extra producers develop and construct automobiles for the profitable formulation. The goalposts will proceed to maneuver as every automotive is up to date and a brand new mannequin is launched, that is why the Bentley stretches the envelope significantly in almost each single manner.
“Producers are pushing the boundaries the way in which we’ve put completely different chassis legs on the entrance, similar to the BMW, we’ve moved additional again. It’s on the restrict of the FIA wanting us to try this,” mentioned Loriaux.
“It’s top-of-the-line sequence on the planet now with every producer utilizing it to promote its automobiles. They’re pushing the boundaries as a result of, clearly they need to be the quickest to showcase what they’ll do, so the rules are being pushed in the meanwhile. The factor is, yearly the rules are altering, so so long as we’re on this bubble and we keep as a producer sport, when a brand new automotive comes on the market will all the time be producers that may push the boundaries a bit extra, the FIA will enable them this and received’t enable them to try this.
“We use these rules and go ‘proper, the place’s the opening? Can we do that or try this?’ As engineers, that’s what we’re there to do, we’re making an attempt to make the perfect of the algorithm and we’re there to make the perfect automotive below the rules.”
4.0-litre direct-injection twin-turbo V8, Cosworth engine administration system
Max Energy Approx. 550 bhp derestricted
Oil System Dry sump
Rear wheel drive, Ricardo six-speed sequential transaxle gearbox
AP racing clutch, steering wheel mounted paddle-operated pneumatic gear shift
Carbon fibre propshaft, restricted slip differential
Double wishbone suspension entrance and rear, four-way adjustable racing dampers
Electrical power-assisted steering
Alcon ventilated iron disc brakes entrance and rear, Alcon six-piston entrance callipers, four-piston rear callipers, driver-adjustable brake bias
FIA-specification metal roll cage, six-point FIA security harness, onboard fireplace extinguisher, onboard pneumatic jack system
FIA-specification ATL racing gas cell
Race-specification Bosch ABS and traction management. Light-weight race battery.
BBS Motorsport 18” x 13” rims
355 / 705 R18
Carbon fibre entrance splitter, rear wing and physique panels. Light-weight, aerodynamically-optimised bumpers, bonnet, sills and fenders
Size: 4860 mm
Width: 2045 mm
Peak: 1355 mm
Weight: 1300 kg
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Date posted: December 29, 2020