Bentley @ Spa
Since Dust In The Pit Lane is up, it is more than obvious that I’m one hopeless Bentley addict. Always been one, very likely influenced by my father who introduced me to the good automative things in life, or the so called luxury cars. Bentley was one of the brands we’d talk about many times and I do remember how much he loved the British Green and Speed 8 for that racing matter. Oh well, good memories that made me block Bentley in my mind as one of my favorite car brands.
Nevertheless, the Bentley cars that really, really impressed me were always the competition GT ones. I have always wondered how big those Bentley Continental GTs were in reality even if I knew the road car already. They always looked so much bigger.
Well, it was finally time to get rid of ‘such dear item’ off my bucket list.
Getting to know those ‘big boys’.
What I have never thought about was that life would get me to a privileged place where I could, not only see the cars in real life (and on top with unbelievable beautiful liveries on), but also meet most of all my racing heroes… and just guess, at an iconic track like Spa-Francorchamps.
On top of that, it’s the Centenary Year of the brand, which makes it all even more special.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Spa-Francorchamps is, by far, my favorite track of ALL races. For so many reasons I can’t even describe. But it became even more special this year. And it’s not about Eau Rouge, Raidillion, La Source, Blanchimont or Les Combes… it’s the whole thing. Although I was REALLY impressed about how steep Raidillion is in fact. That I have to say.
Not only I managed to meet a lot of people, that I have been chatting with for some years now, but I was able to meet in person most (not all, but most) of all my racing heroes.
With some of them I’ve been exchanging messages for quite a long time now. Me and some of the Bentley boys, we do chat. About… racing, go figure! 😉
We celebrate wins and losses, I’m there thick or thin during races. For whatever happens, I’m there for the team. I live all those emotions from a distance. Most of the times from a very long distance. I’m there though, day or night. I want them to know I’m supporting them no matter what. Far away it’s even harder and I really take it serious because I know it is important to feel supported. The #BringTheThunder is a common hashtag in my posts during those times.
I put myself in their shoes. How amazing would it be to feel supported by someone living on the other side of the world? Yeah, exactly that, it’s amazing and I’d personally like that if I was them.
That’s what I want those guys to feel. We, true fans, are always with them, no matter what, win or lose, no matter what. We live the race with them. Because it is important for the sake of motorsport. That’s the magic of it all. Specially now with all those mobile devices and the globality that comes with them… you’re able to do it. In real time.
So, now imagine meeting those heroes in person. Yeah.
I never thought that after 2016, at the final of Blancpain at Barcelona, when I first saw Andy Soucek (on tv) getting rid of his cycling ride charity (not Movember) moustache, and Maxime Soulet basically ripping it (holy crap) I would ever meet him in person. Well I did.
Andy is polite, he’s an incredible gentleman. He made me the whole tour through the pits, through everywhere, he introduced me to everyone, I even met the guys’ masseur. Ok. Ahead. 😀
What I didn’t expect was to meet all those Bentleys guys at once. Nope, I did not. Well I did. Except three that I admire tons: Maxime Soulet, Steven Kane and Guy Smith. They were busy, there was a media function going on and obviously… BUT. I mean, meeting most of the Bentley Boys was more than overwhelming already right? Well, it was for me.
Anyway, Andy made sure I’d have a full tour around the cars, specially the #110 (looooove), and explained all the tricks and details about the inside, driver change and so. So much we don’t know. The cars are absolute stunners. I can confirm that.
We went back to Bentley’s hospitality, and a lot of talking again. I had the chance to see some of the guys in a more relaxed moment. Whether watching some race out there on tv (what do race drivers do in a confined place with a tv and a race on? Yep.) or playing PS4 Project Cars. So, I can happily confirm that what you guys see on Instagram and Stories… yep, they’re pretty much the same.
I’m still digesting it all. I truly am.
What would the be the odds to meet Pipo Derani at Spa, one of my super IMSA heros, driving for Bentley? Well, even that, it happened.
– Pipo, if I was a big fan, now… deal with it, because it grew bigger haha! Valeu! 😉
Pit dynamics… wow, another treat to discover. I went back to the pits during the race night and it was absolutely a treat to follow. Any moments are great to be there… although during a 24h race anything can happen as it all changes, by the sec. For good or bad.
I’m so respectful for all the team crews. After all, nothing would happen without those crews working in the back. Those guys, oh my god… they’re just there, supporting the team and working their asses off all the time (do excuse my language but it’s really like that). It’s simply amazing to watch. This is to them… you rock and thank you for giving us unforgettable moments during those pit stops!
This is a bit of my registry of the experience… but most of the gallery above belongs to two talented guys: Michele Scudiero and Vincent Franken. I truly hope you enjoy it.
Any question let me know, I’ll be more than happy to help if I can.
Dream and bucket list…. check.
Big, big, huge thanks to Andy Soucek for making this possible.
Thank you to Brian Gush, who left the brand but have been 20 years at the helm of Bentley Motorsport.
Thank you also to Zakir Munawer for being so kind and…. just there, making sure I had the greatest experience!
Thank You Bentley Motorsport.