The burly Bentley Continental GT3 will continue on in the Autobacs Super GT Series, with Monday’s announcement that EIcars Bentley will return for the 2018 season with the first-generation Continental racing car.
With only changes in the team’s directorial structure, the team retains its veteran driver lineup of former GT500 race winner Yuji Ide, and former Super Taikyu champion Ryohei Sakaguchi, for the 2018 season.
EIcars, the import automotive dealership company, will continue to back Super GT’s sole Bentley on the grid, as Bentley are one of their specialty brands.
The team struggled for results in the 2017 season, with a best finish of only 16th at the Fuji 500km. They took part in just 6 of 8 races last year, missing the round at Chang International Circuit voluntarily, and missing the round at Sportsland Sugo after failing to pre-qualify under the new provisional seed rights system. However, the Bentley proved reliable as it has overseas, failing to be classified only once.
This year, the team will elect to run another year in the first-generation Continental GT3, with the updated second-generation model making its debut in Europe this year.
Ide, who just celebrated his 43rd birthday yesterday, brings with him 14 seasons’ worth of Super GT experience, a race winner in both the GT500 and GT300 categories. But this will be the first time that the former Japanese Top Formula runner-up will drive in consecutive seasons since 2009-10.
Sakaguchi, who also turns 43 next month, is in his ninth Super GT season – but only the third full season for the four-time Super Taikyu champion, who won three in a row in ST-2 from 2010-2012, and an ST-3 title last year in 2016. His best finish in the series was a fourth place back in 2008 at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
There is a change in the directorial structure: Hiroyuki Teramoto, and the Teramoto Technical Office (TTO), are no longer involved with the project. Tadahiko Oishi of EIcars will take over as the team director. In fact, half of the team’s racing mechanics are service mechanics at EIcars dealerships across Japan.