Team Bentley preview, part II

John Wickham, Manager, Team Bentley John is in charge of all matters relating to the logistics and administration of the race, from deciding the race strategy to making sure the entire team is properlypresented, fed and accommodated. His ...

John Wickham, Manager, Team Bentley

John is in charge of all matters relating to the logistics and administration of the race, from deciding the race strategy to making sure the entire team is properlypresented, fed and accommodated.

His experience in this field touches almost every area of premier league motor racing from Formula One to Touring Cars. He was the team manager of the Footwork-Arrows F1 team from 1990-4 and before then he was involved in Formula 3000, Formula Two, Formula Three as well as Group C sportscar racing with Toyota.

He teamed up with Richard Lloyd in 1996 and helped mastermind Audi's Touring Car successes before going to the US to run Stefan Johansson's sportscar team in the American Le Mans Series.

Hiroshi Fushida, Operations Director, Racing Technology Norfolk (RTN)

Hiroshi is the man who took on the responsibility for the EXP Speed 8 from the project's inception to the delivery of three race ready cars.

A professional racing driver for Honda by the time he was 19 years old, Hiroshi has lived and breathed racing cars all his adult life, racing all over the world at all levels of the sport. In his racing career he was the first Japanese both to drive at Le Mans and in Formula One before hanging up his helmet to look after Toyota's Group C ambitions through the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was appointed General Manager of RTN in 1999 and became operations director last year; he is currently overseeing the building and development testing of the EXP Speed 8s prior to their debut at Le Mans.

Alastair Macqueen, Project Manager - Racing Technology Norfolk (RTN)

Alastair's considerable task is to look after all elements of the construction, scheduling and testing of the EXP Speed 8, a job he could scarcely be more suited to after over 20 years at the cutting edge of the industry.

In 1982 and 1983 he was the race engineer for two young hopefuls called James Weaver and Martin Brundle in Eddie Jordan's Formula Three team and prepared the car that took Martin to the brink of the championship only to be beaten in the last laps of the last race by Ayrton Senna.

Alastair moved into sportscars and was race engineer to Jaguar's top drivers during its successful Group C campaign in the late 1980s before becoming the chief development engineer for Jaguar's XJ220 road car. Since then Alastair returned to sportscar racing, first as chief race engineer to Toyota's Group C project and thence into touring car and private sportscar teams. Most recently he was head of engineering at Formula Palmer Audi, looking after all aspects of the hugely successful FPA domestic and European series.

Peter Elleray, Chief Designer - Racing Technology Norfolk (RTN)

Perhaps more than any other individual, the competitiveness of the EXP Speed 8 lies in Peter's hands for a team can have the best suppliers in the world but it is the fundamental design of the car which dictates its true potential. Peter's approach was to take maximum advantage of the regulations with an innovative aerodynamic and structural concept which has exceeded all expectations in the wind tunnel.

Peter's career started in the crucial field of aerodynamics, working for British Aerospace on military aircraft in the early 1980s before he joined the Arrows Formula One team as a designer in 1984. He then worked with first Nissan and then Toyota on their Le Mans projects before going on to work on a number of other Toyota racing programmes from Formula Three to Super Touring cars. He was appointed chief designer at RTN in 1998 and led the design team that took Audi to Le Mans for the first time with the quick but ultimately underdeveloped R8C coupe.

Derek Bell

Team Bentley's newest recruit, Derek will work as a consultant to the team, giving the benefit of his vast experience of not only the race, but crucially in preparing for it too. Come the race weekend he will be on hand throughout the 24 hours to lend strategic and tactical assistance.

Away from the race track, Derek will also play an instrumental role in the testing, development and evaluation of future Bentley road cars, including the forthcoming MSB (Mid-Sized Bentley).

Derek Bell's international racing career started with just three Formula Three races in 1965. He won regularly through 1966 and '67 showing such promise he was catapulted through Formula Two and into a works Ferrari Formula One drive in 1968. Aside from winning Le Mans on five occasions (1975, 81-82, 86-7), Derek was also twice World Sportscar champion (1985-86) and was awarded an MBE for services to motor racing in 1986.

THE DRIVERS

Andy Wallace

Andy has won every important sportscar race - Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona, Petit Le Mans - all have succumbed to his speed and consistency making him one of the greatest sportscar drivers of all time and the most successful British driver currently in the discipline. And not only has he won these races, he goes back and wins them again as his three wins at Daytona and two at Sebring bear witness.

The list of his other sportscar experience is as varied as it is long: he won three rounds of the BPR Global Endurance GT Championship in 1995 and claimed the Silverstone 4 hours the following year. In 1997 he won at Road Atlanta and Sears Point (twice) and was crowned Professional Sportscar GT1 champion in 1998. In 1999 he won the Daytona 24-hours for the third time and also at Mid-Ohio while last year his victories included the Watkins Glen 6 hours and the Daytona 250 miles.

Butch Leitzinger

The only reason you are less likely to have heard of Butch than his team-mates is that he has spent the bulk of his career driving in his native United States. But his results make equally compelling reading: like Andy Wallace he counts himself among the tiny number of drivers to have won the Daytona 24 hours three times - he is a double World Sportscar Champion and CanAm champion too. Suffice to say that `On Track' magazine named him their sportscar driver of the decade.

Though primarily a sportscar racer, Butch has taken time out to try some more homegrown racing and has won frequently in NASCAR racing, including three straight wins at Lime Rock from 1994-6. He currently drives for Dyson Racing in the GrandAm series in the USA.

Martin Brundle

World renowned for his exploits during 12 seasons in Formula One and now as Murray Walker's right hand man. It is easy to forget that Martin is also one of the most formidable sportscar racers on the planet. He was with Jaguar throughout its comeback in the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning for the first time at Spa in 1987 and helping it to the World Sportscar Championship. He took the Daytona 24-hours the following year as Jaguar won the title again, then took a year out, returning in time to win the 1990 Le Mans for the marque, going on to achieve further success in 1991.

F1 then kept Martin away from sportscars until 1997, but when he returned to Le Mans in 1998 and 1999 he soon proved himself to be convincingly the quickest man on the track, with only mechanical failure preventing victory. Martin is also the chairman of the British Racing Drivers Club, formed in 1927 by none other than that famed Bentley Boy of old, Dr Dudley Benjafield.

Stephane Ortelli

Stephane is a born sportscar racer, sensationally fast when required to be and immensely sympathetic to his machinery. It's a combination that works and the fact that he should have won Le Mans twice in his last three attempts speaks for itself. In fact he only won in 1998 (driving for Porsche) as a precautionary gearbox change demoted the Audi he was driving last year from the lead to second place at the flag.

Like so many racers, Stephane started his career in karts, becoming a serial championship winner while still a child and soon progressed to become French Formula Three champion. He went on to win the privateers class in the French touring car championship before graduating to premier league sportscars in 1997.

Guy Smith

Guy is a new force to be reckoned with in sportscar racing and his hiring reflects not only his innate speed, but also Bentley's desire to promote the best in emerging British racing talent. Guy has only raced at Le Mans once before but he still managed to qualify 20 places higher on the grid than the next best newcomer. It is an achievement which earned him the coveted `Rookie of the Year' award.

But while he is a comparative new boy in sportscars, he has 14 seasons of racing under his belt despite being just 26 years old. He won four karting championships in five years and worked his way up to Formula Three where, in his first ever race at that level he qualified on pole and then won outright.

In 1997 he went to race in the US with former Ferrari F1 driver Stefan Johansson, contesting the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights championship, coming third overall and claiming another `Rookie of the Year' award.

Eric van de Poele

Eric, 39, brings to the team a wealth of experience and proven ability in sportscar racing. He is one of the very few drivers to have scored back to back victories in the Sebring 12-hours and he has raced at Le Mans seven times, winning the Le Mans Prototype category in 1998 despite having to drive over half the race himself due to a team-mate falling ill.

Other achievements include second place in the 1990 international F3000 championship, finishing ahead of Eddie Irvine and two seasons in Formula One. He has also won the Spa 24-hours, the German Touring Car Championship and was the last ever winner of the Birmingham Superprix. Eric was born in Verviers, Belgium but now lives in San Diego, California with his wife and four children.

THE SUPPLIERS

Audi Sport - Engine

Audi Sport is the racing division of Audi, and anyone who went to Le Mans last year will understand why a highly developed version of its race winning engine has been chosen to power the EXP Speed 8 in its debut year.

Not only is the 3.6-litre, twin-turbo V8 very powerful, it also has proven reliability - a crucial consideration in this first season where the aim is to gather data for a concerted assault on the top step of the podium in years to come.

Audi Sport may be a new name in sports car racing but it has already proven highly successful, not only claiming the first three places at Le Mans in 2000, but also winning the American Le Mans Series.

Dunlop - Tyres

It is entirely fitting that the task of creating tyres capable of handling the huge performance of the EXP Speed 8 was given to Dunlop. Not only has Dunlop proven itself to be one of the great names in British motor racing, it was also Dunlop tyres that were fitted to Le Mans Bentleys for every one of their five victories. Better still, no other manufacturer can approach Dunlop's Le Mans record: exactly half of the 68 races held since 1923 have been won by cars wearing Dunlop rubber.

For the race itself, each EXP Speed 8 is anticipated to need up to 120 tyres and Dunlop will take 10 times that number to furnish both race cars, the spare and to cope with every conceivable track and weather condition.

No-one and least of all Dunlop are underestimating the size of the challenge, particularly as the Bentley's closed cockpit means it has to use narrower tyres than its open prototype opposition. Dunlop's technicians have been at every test since their appointment and are working day and night to provide a range of tyres capable of withstanding the unique demand that the EXP Speed 8 will place upon them.

OZ Racing - Wheels

The Italian OZ company only came into existence in 1971, but in just 30 years it has become the benchmark in the global motor-racing industry.

There is no corner of the business it has not touched, no internationally renowned racing championship it has not claimed. OZ has won at the highest levels from Formula One to sportscars, rallying, saloon and Indycar racing.

Currently on the F1 grid the Williams, Sauber, BAR and Jordan teams all make use of OZ's wheels and their renowned lightness and strength will be a considerable advantage to Bentley during its Le Mans campaign.

AP Racing - Brakes

The field leader in brake technology, the British based AP Racing has been creating brakes and clutches for all manner of racing cars and motor-cycles for over 30 years, helping the likes of Jim Clark, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen and countless others to world titles.

Braking has probably advanced more than any other technology over the years, from heavy, inefficient and fade-prone drums to today's carbon discs, which can slow a racing car at 3g; AP Racing has been at the forefront of that advance, pioneering the technologies in their laboratories and then proving them on the race track.

The brakes AP has provided for the EXP Speed 8 are six piston callipers all round with 14.8in diameter ventilated discs at the front and 14in at the rear. These are the same size or larger than the actual wheels of most road cars yet weigh just a fraction of a conventional steel disc brake.

Xtrac - gearbox internals

Another British company that leads the world in its field and a brief look at Xtrac's successes last year gives some indication why.

Xtrac gearboxes were in the cars that won the Formula One World Championship, World Rally Championship, CART World Series, the Indianapolis 500 and the national Touring Car Championships of Britain, Germany, Sweden, Australia and Italy.

Xtrac was formed in 1984, concentrating mainly on building transmissions for rally cars. By 1988 the business was turning over £2 million, by 1992 it was £12 million. Now Xtrac employs nearly 200 people, supplying gearbox components around the world to both customer and works teams.

The gearbox used by the Bentley EXP Speed 8 is a six speed transmission with a paddle-actuated, pneumatically operated sequential shift pattern. Its job is to transfer the mighty torque of the Bentley's twin-turbo, V8 motor to the track and cope with up to 20,000 racing gear changes during the course of the 24 hours.

-Team Bentley-

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Andy Wallace , Eddie Irvine , Mika Hakkinen , Stefan Johansson , Guy Smith , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Eddie Jordan , Eric van de Poele , Martin Brundle , Stéphane Ortelli , Jim Clark , Ayrton Senna , Damon Hill , Derek Bell , Richard Lloyd
Teams Sauber , Williams , Nissan Motorsport