Bentley has withdrawn its Bathurst 12 Hour-winning factory team from the remainder of the current Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) season as a result of COVID-19.
The Bentley Team M-Sport squad will not have a chance to add to its maiden IGTC race win, at Mount Panorama in February, but the British marque will continue to support customer teams throughout various championships.
It had already reduced factory commitments to IGTC having previously also contested GT World Challenge Europe, with the latest move triggered by the disruption to the 2020 racing calendar.
The IGTC’s 24 Hours of Spa has been postponed from July to October, and the Suzuka 10 Hours cancelled, making for a more compressed run of races later in the year.
“Of course we’re disappointed not to see M-Sport complete the Intercontinental GT Challenge this season – especially after the record-breaking win at Bathurst – but we said at the end of last year that in 2020 we would be fully focused on our customers and we need to do that now more than ever,” said Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Paul Williams.
“Our customer teams, drivers and sponsors have all endured difficult times financially but they have worked hard to ensure we have 12 (customer) cars ready to be competitive once racing continues – it is our duty to continue to stand by our customers and make this season a success.”
The decision relates only to the 2020 IGTC at present, and M-Sport could yet contest the Spa-Francorchamps race as a customer team, according to Williams.
“Bentley Team M-Sport was outstanding at Bathurst and we hope to have the race-winning outfit back on track with us very soon,” he added.
“We also hope to have some new customer team news to share in the coming weeks, with the Continental GT3 set to take on another top-level series.
“We are also working with M-Sport to see if they can run at the 24 Hours of Spa, which they would enter as a customer team with our backing like our other teams.”
The next IGTC round is the Indianapolis 8 Hour on October 2-4, three weeks prior to Spa.