Bentley will continue to compete in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup this season after confirming that its official customer squad, Team Parker Racing, will enter a Continental GT3 in all five rounds.
The Silver Cup-eligible entry will be driven by Josh Caygill and Árón Taylor-Smith, both of whom are making their first appearances in a Bentley and for Team Parker Racing.
Caygill can rely on a year of Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup experience as preparation for his switch to a Sprint format that sees teams tackling two one-hour races per weekend. Prior to that the 28-year-old competed in several one-make touring car championships domestically and abroad.
Meanwhile, Taylor-Smith will be making his first appearance in a GT3 car after graduating from the highly competitive British Touring Car Championship. The Irish driver, also 28, finished as high as eighth overall during a six-year spell that featured four victories.
Both join a Team Parker Racing squad making its European racing return this season. But while 2018 represents its first Sprint Cup campaign, the British outfit is no stranger to either the first-generation Continental GT3 or Blancpain GT Series: it previously contested the championship’s Endurance Cup with Bentley in 2016 before winning the British GT Drivers’ title last season.
Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush: “Following last season’s title-winning campaign with the Continental GT3 we are delighted to see Team Parker Racing now also representing Bentley in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. With M-Sport’s focus switching to the second-generation car’s development in the Endurance Cup and Intercontinental GT Challenge it was important that Bentley retained a presence in the shorter Sprint format, and Team Parker Racing’s proven experience of this in British GT made them ideal candidates.”
Both Caygill and Taylor-Smith recently tested the Continental GT3 at Navarra in Spain ahead of the season-opening Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup round at Zolder in Belgium on April 6-8. Eight further races are scheduled in Britain, Italy, Hungary and Germany before the end of 2018.
Josh Caygill: “We’ve already enjoyed a very productive two-day test at Navarra where I got to know the team and Árón, and also sampled the Continental GT3 for the first time. There’s a really good atmosphere within the team, which is very positive and I am sure we are going to have a great year. Both myself and Árón are already working well together; it’s great to have such a competitive team-mate that you can push and measure yourself against. I was also blown away with the Bentley and how comfortable I felt driving it from day one. I know from first-hand experience how competitive the Blancpain GT Series is, but I’m also looking forward to the shorter Sprint races where it’s even more cut and thrust than Endurance. Árón’s BTCC background is well suited to that style of racing, while my recent touring car experience should also prove useful.”
Árón Taylor-Smith: “Joining Team Parker Racing’s Bentley programme is literally a dream come true and represents a milestone moment in my career. We completed our first test two weeks ago and it’s already apparent that everyone within the team is dedicated to achieving success. I feel extremely lucky to be learning from some of the best, while in the few days I’ve spent getting to know Josh it’s also become clear how fast and dedicated he is. I’m genuinely really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together this year as I embark on a new chapter in GT racing. The car is a big step forward from what I’ve driven in the past and I think that’s what excites me the most. The opportunity to further myself as a driver is something that I am really looking forward to.”
(press release & photo: Bentley Motorsport)