June 15th marked 10 years to the day since Bentley’s famous victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At 16:00 on June 15, 2003, the Number 7 Bentley Speed 8 driven by Guy Smith, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello crossed the finish line in first place, closely followed by the Number 8 Bentley of Mark Blundell, David Brabham and Johnny Herbert. The victory was Bentley’s sixth at Le Mans and marked the company’s return to the pinnacle of endurance motorsport after 73 years. The success remains as the most recent outright British win at Le Mans. Completing 3,196 miles (5,146 km) over the course of the event, the two cars recorded an average speed of 133 mph (214 km/h).
The legendary victory followed three years of hard work by a dedicated team of British engineers, led by Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush. Brian comments, “Our domination of the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans was the result that we’d all dared to hope for. Achieving a 1-2 was not easy, but the result is still testament to the skill of the team involved. Spectators love seeing these iconic racers, so we still run both cars to this day – and every time we do, the incredible emotions involved on that Sunday return.”
Bentley celebrates the victory with a number of events over the summer, starting with the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power this past weekend (June 14-16) and the Goodwood Festival of Speed (July 12-14).