Sports car legend Derek Bell is to race his first pre-war car at the Le Mans Classic meeting on 7-8 July. The five-time 24 Hours winner will co-drive Martin Overington's 4 1/2-litre ‘Blower’ replica that he recently tested at the Dunsfold test track and greatly enjoyed.
Bell will compete against 60-plus pre-war cars in Group 1, but will have his work cut out in the three-part race against a rapid team of four Talbot 105 team cars, plus a replica Lagonda V12 Le Mans, the last WO Bentley-designed Le Mans car.
Even so, thanks to the Villiers supercharger giving it 200bhp from its 4 1/2 litre engine, the 1.7-tonne Bentley – sponsored by tour organiser Classic Grand Touring and delivered new to Tate & Lyle sugar in 1929 – should reach a nervous 127mph on the Mulsanne Straight.
WO Bentley never approved of racer Tim Birkin’s supercharged team cars, which famously pushed the rival Mercedes S-Type of Rudi Caracciola to breaking point in 1931 before engine problems forced retirement to allow the less stressed Speed Six of Woolf Barnato and Glen Kidston to win.
It will be the second time this year Bell that has competed in a historic car at Circuit de la Sarthe after driving a Porsche 962 in the Group C race supporting the 24 Hours. Click here for the full story.