British sports car racing driver Andy Meyrick made history this weekend (13 December), as the 28-year old from Chester, UK, crossed the finish line of the Gulf 12 Hours in the Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3’s debut race, taking fourth place after holding third for most of the two six-hour races.
After a season of testing and developing the Bentley Continental GT3, the crew headed to the Yas Marinas circuit in Abu Dhabi earlier this week for its debut race. All eyes were on the 4.0-litre V8-engined machine as it took part in the free practice sessions and, as the week progressed, it became clear that it was well-prepared and on the pace.
“Often with a new car, there is a lot to do in the test sessions of its debut race,” explains Andy. “But, the car has been so well developed and prepared that it was as if we were coming to the end of the first season in it. This allowed us to focus on getting the correct set-up for qualifying and the race.”
In Thursday’s qualifying session, Andy and team-mates Guy Smith (GB) and Steven Kane (GB) each took it in turns to record a fast lap of the 3.5 mile-long circuit. Despite it being the car’s debut, the team qualified in fourth out of a field of 24 cars, 16 of which were GT3s.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything more from the car in qualifying,” he continues. “We all pushed it as hard as we could to get the most out of it and we were impressed with what we got back. To qualify for a race like the Gulf 12 Hours, which has such a competitive and high-profile grid, in fourth place shows that the Continental GT3 is going to deliver for us and Bentley’s customer teams next year. It gave us great confidence in the car going into the race.”
Come the race, Andy and his team-mates took it in turns to charge on, making history as Bentley returned to sports car racing after 10 years. After the first six-hour race, the trio tasted the team’s first return success as they took third place, the position that they would then start the second of the races from.
With competition fierce, the team unfortunately lost one place at the start of the race and after another six hours of charging on, Andy crossed the line in fourth place, an impressive result for a car and team’s debut race.
“We couldn’t be happier,” concludes Andy. “We went there aiming primarily for a finish, which we had confidence in because of the car’s great proven reliability in testing. The second aim was to get a top ten finish, so we should be really pleased with fourth. The team can go into its first full season next year with some great data and a lot of confidence.
“The team did a fantastic job and it was an honour and a joy to drive alongside and Guy and Steven.”