DESPITE their production car heritage, modern GT3 racers are pure-bred racing machinery, an aspect that is graphically apparent when you look at their complex steering wheels. For example, the unique wheel in the current-spec Bentley Continental GT3 features no less than 18 controls. Developed by M-Sport, the controls have been deliberately arranged to enable the driver to instinctively accomplish a host of vital tasks and adjustments while keeping both hands on the wheel and remain focused on the track ahead of them.
This wheel is from the #8 Flying B Bentley that was driven by Peter Edwards, David Brabham and Liqui-Moly brand ambassador, John Bowe in the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour. So what do all the buttons do? FreeStyle asked JB to gives us the rundown:
1: NEUTRAL BUTTON: Press to select neutral in pit stop. Also pressed to allow first gear to be selected when moving off
2: FLASH BUTTON: Turns the headlights on and off
3: NEGATIVE PADDLE SHIFT: Selects the next gear down. Paddle must be clicked for each, individual downshift. During downshifts the throttle is automatically blipped through the ECU to synchronise the revs .It certainly frees up lots of brain space and is one of the easier things about GT cars.
4: NEGATIVE BUTTON: Allows the driver to slightly reduce the degree of traction control intermittence mid corner
5: RADIO BUTTON: Activates the digital radio system, allowing the driver to talk to the pits. Best radio system I have ever had in a race car
6: LEFT BUTTON: Actives the Bentley’s left blinker. I never use indicators on a race car, it’s too confusing for most!
7: ALARM: Turns off any alarms that are triggered by such things as; low fuel pressure, low oil pressure, etc
8: PAGE ROTARY SWITCH: Scrolls the myriad of different screens on the digital dash display. I run Position 8, which shows tyre pressures, gear position, lap time and predictive lap time. Other pages are more for the engineers, I’m far too busy to look at much!!
9: MAP ROTARY SWITCH: Selects numerous engine maps, economy (1) and maximum power (8) are the only ones I have used so far
11: WIPE BUTTON: Triggers the front wiper blade. Same as a road car: push once for slow, next push gives you fast and the next push is off – and they self-park!
12: POSITIVE PADDLE SHIFT: Selects the next gear up. Paddle must be clicked for each, individual upshift
13: POSITIVE BUTTON: Allows the driver to slightly increase the degree of traction control intermittence mid corner
14: WASH BUTTON: Sprays cleaning fluid onto the front screen. I have never used it, because if it smears, you can’t see
15: RIGHT BUTTON: Actives the Bentley’s right blinker. I never use indicators on a race car, it’s too confusing for most!
16: DRINK BUTTON: The drink system is awesome, best ever! Each driver takes his own drink bottle, filled with whatever he likes, which is plumbed into the helmet. Pushing the button and nice, cold fluid arrives in your mouth
17: ABS ROTARY SWITCH: Sets the ABS threshold. 1 is very little, 10 is lots. ABS development has been very high in GT racing, I try and run on 1 or 2 for not much interference but it saves a flat spot on a tyre
18: TC ROTARY SWITCH: Primary regulation of the traction control threshold (1 equal’s maximum wheel slippage, 12 allows virtually no wheel spin). Takes time to determine which setting is best for each track, as too aggressive slows the car down
BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT3
story by JOHN BOWE photography by JOHN CHURCHILL + ANDREW RYAN + NATHAN WONG