Bentley brought this Continental GT3 concept to Paris, a GT3 race car currently being developed by a dedicated motorsport team at the company’s Crewe base. It signals Bentley’s return to the racetrack for the first time since its historic sixth Le Mans victory in 2003.

“The GT3 is the realisation of a dream we’ve had ever since the launch of the Continental GT. The new GT Speed is the perfect car for us to develop into a racer, and our work so far has shown huge potential. The GT3 is set to show the world what the Continental GT is capable of in its most extreme form, and establishes a solid foundation for Bentley’s long-term motorsport plans,” said Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, Bentley’s chairman and CEO.

The GT3 concept capitalises on the performance, high-speed stability and durability of Bentley’s Continental GT Speed, the fastest road-going Bentley ever, while tailoring its spec for the track with the adoption of a rear-wheel drive chassis in accordance with the regulations. There’s also “state-of-the-art motorsport hardware and a comprehensive aerodynamic package”, Bentley adds.

The Bentley boys are returning to the motorsport arena towards the end of 2013. Equipped for endurance as well as outright speed, the new Bentley competitor will be eligible to race in a range of race series and events, up to and including 24-hour marathons.

Heading the development of the Continental GT3 is Bentley’s director of chassis, powertrain and motorsport, Brian Gush. Having led the programme that famously saw a brace of Bentley Speed 8 prototype racers take a dominant and dramatic one/two at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003, Brian is well placed to lead Bentley’s return to competitive racing.

Development will continue over the coming months in the build-up to the start of a test programme in 2013. We’ve been lucky enough to test drive two Bentleys recently – the Continental GTC V8 and the flagship Mulsanne – click here to read.