After a 6-month preparation and development programme, a race-ready Bentley Bentayga SUV is to take on the 96th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb the American state of Colorado this weekend. Tackling the challenge will be 2-time overall Pikes Peak champion Rhys Millen, whose team has been working with Bentley Motorsport to prepare the car for ‘The Race to The Clouds’, as the event is known.

To beat the existing Production SUV record of 12 minutes 35.61 seconds set by a Range Rover Sport in 2014, Millen will need to drive the Bentayga at a speed averaging not less than 96 km/h all the way along the 19.9-km course.

Along the route, he will take tight and twisty 156 turns and go from a starting altitude of 2,800 metres to the finish point at 4,300 metres. The combination of specially-tuned W12 engine, adaptive air suspension and 48V electric active anti-roll control will help him maintain high speeds through the turns.

As a competitor in the Production class, minimal changes have been permitted by the regulations. The Bentayga has a mandatory roll-cage, fire suppression system and racing seat, as well as approved tyres. A sports exhaust from Akrapovic has been installed as well. Around 300 kgs of interior trim has been temporarily removed for the event as stipulated by the rules, but in all other respects, the SUV is similar to the models in showrooms around the world.

The Bentayga prepared for the ‘Race to the Clouds’ has minimal changes (mostly safety equipment) and is similar to the model in showrooms (above).

The Bentayga is finished in an eye-catching Radium Satin paintwork and has been fitted with Bentley’s Styling Specification kit. This comprises a carbonfibre front splitter, diffuser, side skirts and rear spoiler which improves downforce over the back of the car.

“Our preparation for the event has been extremely thorough, and our Bentley Motorsport race engineers have produced a car that demonstrates the Bentayga’s inherent potential to the full. It’s now up to Rhys to drive the best run possible. After his performances in testing, we have every confidence in him. The weather is the one factor we can’t control so we’re hoping for a clear Sunday morning,” said Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush.

Millen, who has a lot of experience racing in the event, said that the course is one you can only attack with a car that can gain and lose speed very quickly, because it’s so tight and twisty. The combination of 600 bhp, 900 Nm and carbon ceramic brakes means that the Bentayga can accelerate and decelerate incredibly hard – and that’s what I’ll be counting on for my run,” he said.

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[Chips Yap]

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