Bentley has set a new SUV record at Pikes Peak with its Bentley Bentayga setting a new time of 10 minutes, 49.9 seconds for the 12.42 mile course.
The four wheel drive, which had ace steerer Rhys Millen behind the wheel, has been largely left stock, except for the necessary safety equipment to ensure Millen stays in one piece, even if the big Bentley didn’t. But it did, thankfully, with a production SUV record being set.
Keeping Millen safe was a roll cage, fire suppression system and race seat specially selected for Millen’s frame, while Pirelli tyres came from the company’s DOT-marked range.
The rules stipulate interior removal, so the Bentayga has been able to shed around 300kg of weight, and to help the engine breathe a little easier, an Akrapovic exhaust has been fitted.
Around six months has gone into the program to prepare for the race, and Millen averaged an incredible 66.5mph (107kmh) on the course to achieve the Production SUV record. Before the race, Millen said he needed to average 60mph, meaning the drive came together better than expected.
The 600hp twin-turbo W12, ZF eight-speed automatic, adaptive air suspension and 48 volt anti-roll system will be working in concert to propel the Bentayga across the landscape, but to properly feel what Pikes Peak will be like, the team had to choose somewhere that would mimic the hillclimb.
“What an incredible machine. To take a luxury SUV with minimal modifications and be able to drive up this course in under 11 minutes is a huge testament to the performance and level of engineering in the Bentayga,” said Millen. “I had a great run – the car was planted all the way up and gave me the confidence I needed to push hard. I’m delighted to take the SUV record for Bentley and for everyone that’s been involved in this project.”
Clearly, Bentley and the motorsport team couldn’t practice on Pikes Peak itself, so they chose Willow Springs Raceway in California which they said matched the long turns and undulating landscape of Pikes Peak.
This helped them to get the tyres to the right pressures, the transmission shifting at the right points (to take full advantage of the 900Nm of torque) and which drive mode to use throughout the whole course.
“Well done Rhys Millen and entire Bentley Motorsport team,” said Adrian Hallmark, CEO of Bentley Motors.
Millen knows the hillclimb intimately, so Willow Springs helped him to work out how to burst out of corners, and also to monitor brake temperature.
Initially the team started out with three to four lap stints, ramping it up to 12 lap runs to get a real feel for how the SUV will handle the conditions. Millen said that by the end of the test runs, the Bentayga was hitting times around four to five seconds quicker than he expected.
“Our preparation for the event has been extremely thorough, and our Bentley Motorsport race engineers have produced a car that demonstrates the Bentayga’s inherent potential to the full,” said Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport.
The Pikes Peak course is 12.42 miles with 156 corners and a 4,720 ft climb to the top, so the “The Race to The Clouds” certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
Limited Edition Bentayga
But Bentley must have been ultra confident that it would set the production SUV record at Pikes Peak, as it has already announced a limited edition Bentayga to celebrate the achievement. Imagine not setting the record with these SUVs ready to go.
Only ten cars will be produced and each one has been handed over to the Mulliner team to handcraft into a machine known as the “Pikes Peak Bentayga”.
There’s a choice of two colours – black or Radium, the same green as the record-setting SUV. The 22-inch wheels are finished in a two-tone paint with both the Radium green and black, and like the race car, all the chrome on the outside has been replaced by black accents. There’s also a carbon-fibre front splitter and rear spoiler as well as deeper side skirts and a new rear diffuser.
Look closely and you’ll see the Pikes Peak emblem on the fenders. It’s also inside on the dash as well.
The interior is a mix of green and black, and there are alcantara seat inserts (keeping your bum in place) as well as door panels. The treadplates are numbered, as well – just in case your forgot which car you’ve bought.
While the race SUV had an Akrapovic exhaust, the limited edition vehicle has to make do with the Bentayga Sports Exhaust, but you’ll get the same twin-turbo W12 petrol motor and ZF eight speed gearbox. The suspension and its 48 volt anti-roll system is the same as the race car as well.
When can you buy one? From August you can order onne, but if you’re outside the US or Europe you’re out of luck. It’s only being offered in those two markets.