The Baltic Sea, sitting off the coast of Finland, is a white wasteland of ice and snow during the winter portion of the calendar. Local hero Juha Kankkunen, a four-time World Rally Champion, looks out over that vast expanse and sees a blank slate on which he can make his mark. What exactly is that mark? It's 200 miles per hour... on ice.
Kankkunen is no stranger to going fast over less-than-ideal driving conditions. However, his rally cars never hit 200 mph and he wasn't driving them on 70 centimeters worth of ice, four kilometers away from the Finnish coast. This fast Fin had previously taken a shot at the 200-mph mark, back in 2007 using a Bentley Continental GT. He came up just short, but his official speed of 199.83 mph did shatter the previous ice speed record of 184 mph, which was set in 1995 in a Bugatti EB110 Supersport.
This time around, Kankkunen was piloting the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible, which boasts 621 horsepower under the hood. The only modifications made to the car included a roll-cage, Pirelli winter tires, a rear parachute and some light aero mods to help with stability on the rather slippery surface.
His Bentley gurgling at the start line like a British school boy who just discovered Pop Rocks, Juha Kankkunen pushed the accelerator to the velvety soft carpet of his Supersports ice rocket. One thousand meters later and the world has a new record for driving quickly over ice... 205.48 mph. Onnittelut Juha ja Bentley!
Rally champion, Juha Kankkunen achieves 205.48 mph (330.695 km/h) in extreme Bentley convertible
(Oulu, Finland. 15 February 2011) Finland's four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen drove a Bentley Continental Supersports convertible on the hazardous frozen waters of the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Finland, at a breathtaking 205.48 mph (330.695 km/h) to set a new world speed record on ice.
Kankkunen was in irresistible form with his all-wheel drive, 6-litre, 12-cylinder Continental Supersports convertible which, in line with the Company's CO2 strategy, ran on biofuel. The world's fastest soft top enabled Juha to shatter his own 2007 world ice speed record of 199.83 mph (321.6 km/h) set in the Continental GT at the same location.
With the help of his own experienced team and Bentley engineers, Kankkunen overcame the challenges of temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees, sudden snow blizzards and potentially dangerous crosswinds on the 16.5km track on a 70cm-thick layer of sea ice. The record attempt was driven on a 1000m long measured distance with the speed certified by officials from the Finland Traffic Police. His new world record was based on the average of two runs in opposite directions with measured speeds ratified by a representative of The Guinness Book of Records.
"The last time, I narrowly missed the magical 200 mph mark in a Continental GT. When I heard about the Supersports I was determined to go record breaking again with the Bentley Boys. This time, with over 600bhp under the bonnet, a Quickshift transmission and the security of the all-wheel drive system, the Supersports convertible was the perfect car to go for the record. " Kankkunen said.
"200mph came up after 5km on sheet ice. Then it was just a question of getting everything right in the timing zone and hoping the snow kept away. There's nothing to beat driving a Bentley at these speeds; the conditions may be perilous but the car responds so well to the slightest adjustment which gives you the confidence to push even harder."
As with the previous record-breaking drive in the Continental GT the Anglo-Finnish team used a car with minimum modification. A fully-welded, heavy-duty safety roll-cage, along with Pirelli winter tyres (Pirelli SottoZero II 275/40R20) and a rear bumper-mounted parachute provided reassurance in case of an emergency. Front and rear spoilers provided optimum high speed stability on the treacherous surface.
To highlight Bentley's environmental commitment to sustainable fuel sources, Kankkunen's Supersports Convertible was fuelled with E85 bioethanol rather than petrol (gasoline). All models in the Continental range are capable of running on petrol (gasoline), E85 bioethanol or any combination of the two.
Wolfgang Dürheimer, Bentley's new Chairman and Chief Executive, said:
"The ice speed record is an amazing feat by Juha Kankkunen, whose skill and courage in extreme conditions truly make him one of the modern-day Bentley Boys. We will be celebrating this achievement with a very special 'extreme' Bentley, which will be the most powerful model ever to bear the famed Winged B emblem."
A limited edition of just 100 examples of this most extreme Bentley will be made and the car will make its global debut at the Geneva Motor Show on 1st March.
Notes for Editors:
Bentley Motors' and Juha Kankkunen's new world ice speed driving records were supported by the following sponsors and technical partners:
BREITLING FOR BENTLEY – 'Instruments for Professionals' and brand partner of Bentley Motors for the provision of specialist timing equipment.
JEFF GREEN – specialised warm weather clothing for all technicians and engineers.
PERFORMANCE AND PROTECTION - manufacturer of advanced roll cages for health and safety and motorsport applications since 1989.
IOGEN CORPORATION – E85 Bioethanol supplier.
JUHA KANKKUNEN: BRIEF CV
Juha Matti Pellervo Kankkunen, born 1959 in Laukaa, Finland
One of the most experienced rally drivers of all times
Four times rally World Champion (1986, 1987, 1991, 1993)
23 times World Rally Winner
Started his career in 1978
First World Rally win in 1985 (Safari Rally)
Won Dakar Rally in 1988
World ice speed record in 2007, in a Bentley Continental GT
HISTORY OF WORLD ICE SPEED RECORDS
2011: Bentley Continental Supersports convertible: 205.48 mph (330.695 km/h) driven by Juha Kankkunen
2007: Bentley Continental GT: 199.83 mph (321.6 km/h) driven by Juha Kankkunen
1995: Bugatti EB110 Supersport: 184 mph (296 km/h)
BENTLEY'S EARLY HISTORY OF RECORD BREAKING
1924: John Duff in a Bentley 3-litre took records at Brooklands between 87mph (139.7 km/h) and 93 mph (149.3 km/h) and a Double-Twelve race victory at 86.69 mph (139.2 km/h)
1925: A Bentley 3-litre established a 24-hrs record at Montlhery at an average speed of 95 mph (152.9 km/h).
1927: The 24-hrs Grand Prix de Paris at Montlhery was won by a Bentley 41/2 –litre at an average speed of 52.5 mph (84.5 km/h)
1928: A Bentley 3-litre driven by Dudley Froy became the first car to average more than 115 mph (185.1 km/h) over a distance of 100 miles (160.9 km) at Brooklands
1929: Mrs Victor Bruce drove solo in a Bentley 41/2-litre at Montlhery to set a Class C record at over 89mph (143.2 km/h)
1932: Tim Birkin in a Birkin blower single seater broke the Brooklands Outer Circuit lap record with a speed of 137.96 mph (221.47 km/h)
1934: Walter Hassan in a Barnato – Hassan single seater set a new Brooklands Outer Circuit record of 142.6 mph (228.9 km/h). It achieved a faster lap time of 143.11 mph (230.3 km).