Bentley has taken the wraps off its Pikes Peak challenger for this year, with the Bentley Bentayga SUV remaining surprisingly recognisable.
To be driven by two-time Pikes Peak winner Rhys Millen, the Bentayga is set to take on the 156 corner course with minimal changes. Normally a Pikes Peak challenger becomes festooned with spoilers, wings, carbon additions and turns into a caricature of itself, but Bentley has been quite restrained.
Sure, the interior is stripped out but to comply with Production Class rules, the Bentley SUV gets a full roll cage, on-board fire suppression setup, Sparco race seats with harnesses, and a custom exhaust system from Akrapovic.
Other than that, the Bentayga remains stock. We’ve enhanced the photo above so you can have a better look at the interior changes (Bentley has only released a few pics of the vehicle) but what’s also apparent is that the bodywork is straight off the showroom floor. The rear spoiler does look a fraction bigger, though, and a full carbon-fibre body kit should help it stick a little better to the road.
Under the bonnet, the Bentley W12 engine has had no work done to it, save the exhaust hanging off the back of it. Still, 600 bhp (447kW) and 900 Nm (664 lb.ft) should be enough. Tyres have been supplied by Pirelli, and the air suspension with its 48-volt anti-roll feature is production spec as well.
So, how will it go? Currently it’s undergoing high-speed performance testing before its June challenge, but the key will be the person piloting the vehicle to its maximum potential.
Rhys Millen is someone who knows the 12.42-mile (19.99km) course intimately, coming from a family who has been associated with Pikes Peak for decades. His father, Rod Millen, has won the race five times, so there’s plenty of history. But to do it in an SUV?
“The opportunity to race with Bentley at Pikes Peak is one that I couldn’t pass up,” said Millen. “I visited the Bentley factory in Crewe, England last month and was amazed at the level of skill that goes in to handcrafting these cars. I also had the chance to drive the race-prepared car for the first time and was blown away by the performance that’s already available. I’m really looking forward to preparing for the race, competing on the mountain with Bentley and hopefully claiming a new SUV record.”
Bentley says it’s aiming to break the existing Production SUV record of 12:35.61, with a minimum speed of 60 mph (96kmh) required to achieve this. All eyes will be set on the Colorado course on the 24th of June, and we’ll let you know how it goes.