WO Bentley at Le Mans
ALL THE PUBLICITY ABOUr THE ENTRY OF TWO BENTLEY EXP Speed 8s for Le Mans has been justified. One retired early, but the other finished third, behind two Audis. An excellent show. I believe they were run not so much to win outright as to finish well. One is reminded of how, in 1939, W Bentley did not want to run the V12 Lagondas — of his design — in the 24-hour race, thinking them insufficiently developed. He was overruled, and it was planned to run two four-carb V12s with light racing bodies, at
just above the 1938 racewinning speed of Chaboud and Tremoulet’s Delahaye (82.35mph). How well this was achieved! Charles Brackenbury and Arthur Dobson were third at 83.61mph, the Lords Se_Isdon/ Waleran Lagonda fourth, behind a Bugatti and a Delage. At Brooklands, these
Le Mans Lags finished 1-2, ‘Brack’, Selsdon, with best laps of 127.70 and 128.03mph. I had to wait until wartime to try the normal V12, a lavender short-chassis saloon with pink upholstery, which would do 100+mph in those unlimited days, the engine happy up to 5500rpm if you overcame a lack of torque by frequent gear-changing. It was silent at ‘the ton’, but wind noise was excessive. It was a short test, with the Battle of Britain raging overhead, but it left me with great
respect for W O’s latest car. Back to Le Mans: this year the Bentleys were said to be returning for the first time in 71 years. True of the worlcs entries (1924-1930), but Bentleys were also entered from 1931-33 and 1949-51, Hay’s
Derby sixth in ’49, Hall’s 1934 Derby 8th and Hay’s Bentley 14th in 1950.