The testing programme has proceeded apace. The autumn was spent doing extensive tyre testing, benchmarking the new Michelin tyres and determining how best to exploit their performance. These tests were conducted with a 2002-specification EXP Speed 8. Early in the New Year, the first of the 2003 Speed 8s was shaken down successfully at Snetterton before heading off to the circuits of Europe for an extensive test programme prior to Sebring.

Bentley Team Director John Wickham commented: ‘The new car clearly has great potential, the drivers are very happy with the progress we are making, particularly its aerodynamic balance. As with all Bentleys we have run in the last two seasons, reliability appears to have been ‘designed in’. It’s early days but so far we have had no reliability issues with the car whatsoever.’

Andy Pope, speaking for Michelin, said: ‘The first few weeks of our association with Bentley have been extremely encouraging. We have not recently made tyres in the sizes dictated by the LM GTP class, but we appear to have found our feet very quickly and are able to supply Team Bentley with tyres that are quick, consistent and durable.’

  2003 Speed 8 1923 3-Litre
Chassis Carbon-fibre monocoque Pressed steel, ladder frame
Body Stressed carbon-fibre by Race Technology Norfolk Aluminium and canvas by Vanden Plas
Engine 90 degree V8, four valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts, twin turbochargers In line, 4 cylinders, four valves per cylinder, single overhead camshaft, normally aspirated
Ignition Bosch 2.8 engine management Twin ML magnetos
Fuel delivery Bosch 2.8 engine management Zenith RA carburettors
Lubrication Dry sump Wet sump
Capacity 4000cc 2996cc
Power output In excess of 600bhp 86bhp
Gearbox Bentley casing with Xtrac 6-speed sequential internals, Megaline pneumatic actuation Bentley ‘A’-type 4-speed, non-syncromesh
Clutch AP Racing multi-plate Cone-type
Suspension Double unequal length wishbones all round, torsion bar springs (front and rear), telescopic dampers Beam axle front, semi-floating live rear axle, semi-elliptic springs all round, Hartford lever arm dampers
Steering Kayaba EPS Power assisted rack and pinion Unassisted worm and wheel
Brakes Front: 14.8in ventilated discs, six piston AP Racing callipers. Rear: 14.0in ventilated discs, six piston AP Racing callipers Front: none Rear: 15.7in cast iron drums, Halo linings
Wheels OZ forged magnesium 18in Rudge-Whitworth wire, 21in
Tyres Michelin slicks and wets Dunlop treaded
Wheelbase 2735mm 2984mm
Length 4645mm 4876mm
Weight 900kg 990kg (without body)
Top speed In excess of 215mph 95mph

Published : 04/02/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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