Racecars break. F1, NASCAR, IndyCar, GT3 – you name it – every go-fast machine built for the track is living on borrowed time. So it wasn't a complete surprise when, after traveling halfway around the world to drive Bentley's Continental GT3 racecar, the darn thing unceremoniously blew its rear differential on someone else's hot lap. While mentally recalibrating to the idea that my only takeaway from the three day commitment might be frequent flier miles, I realized an alternate vehicle on hand could make the trip worthwhile: the roadgoing, not-so-evil twin to the all-out race machine, the 2015 Bentley Continental GT3-R. You can hardly blame Bentley for the failure to proceed. The Flying B has been performing swimmingly well in the Blancpain Endurance Series, scoring three wins in its debut season and racking up a respectable 2015 so far. The dropped, spoilered, and severely trimmed-down GT3 racer reflects a ruthless abandon of all things luxurious and civilized. Over 50 ECUs were ditched from the road car; the doors alone, which typically weigh a lofty 125 pounds apiece, have been trimmed down to a wispy 15. Yes, the race version is a fearsome, sexy beast – and yes, this was quickly proving irrelevant because that drive was simply not meant to be. The Next Best Thing It's hard to call a $339,725 exotic a consolation prize. Climbing into the roadgoing GT3-R reveals a dramatic departure from the standard issue Conti: Not only is the color scheme unexpected (acid green on black and grey), so is the choice of materials (carbon fiber, Alcantara, not an inch of wood veneer in sight). Some pesky legacy remnants remain (antiquated navigation system, some weirdly pedestrian VW-sourced buttons and switches), but there's also a smattering of sweet details (those famous organ stop air vents, the green center indicator on the steering wheel, the pleasantly gripped Alcantara shifter). In all, 300 examples are being built, 99 of which are destined for the US. Unlike the somewhat sonorous GT V8 S upon which it's based, the GT3-R's titanium exhaust enables an even more exuberant, unapologetic, voluminous roar. Those exhaust gases are summoned from the 592-horsepower, 553-pound-foot, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, which gains 71 hp and 51 lb-ft over the V8 S model it's based on. The peak numbers reflect an overboosted state that can be held for 15 seconds; sustained max output is 572 hp and 518 lb-ft, not that it's likely you'll find a stretch of road clear enough to peg the throttle for more than 15 stopwatch clicks. Complementing the power gains is a re-programmed traction control system that enables greater slip angles. The eight-speed ZF gearbox shifts more aggressively, a shorter final drive quickens acceleration, and rear axle torque vectoring helps quell understeer. Where It Matters More crucial than the pumped up drivetrain bits – especially when considering the philosophical level of the tweedy, nearly century-old brand – are the GT3-R's weight savings. The donor car has been alleviated of 220 pounds of mass, and the …
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|Power||582 @ 6100 rpm|
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