In Finland, rally champion Juha Kankkunen has cracked the 200-mph barrier on ice in a Bentley Supersports, setting a new world speed record on ice.
Atop the frozen Baltic Sea at temperatures of minus 30 degrees, he drove the AWD, W12-engined, biofuel-powered Bentley Continental Supersports convertible to a record 205.48 mph, which bested his own previous world record of 199.83 mph set at the same location in 2007.
“The last time, I narrowly missed the magical 200 mph mark in a Continental GT,” he said. “When I heard about the Supersports I was determined to go record breaking again with the Bentley Boys.”
One of the goals of the British/Finnish team was to keep the car as stock as possible: modifications included a roll cage, low-resistance Pirelli winter tires, front and rear spoilers, and a bumper-mounted parachute. Juha Kankkunen fought crosswinds and sudden blizzards on the 10-mile track, atop 27 inches of ice, to complete two runs in opposite directions. The speed was verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Of course, Kankkunen is no stranger to racing in extreme conditions. Since he started rallying in 1978, he has over 23 World Rally victories under his belt, been crowned World Champion four times, and won the Dakar Rally outright in 1988. Finland breeds rally champions, so the saying goes, and off the coast of Finland Kankkunen seemed within his element.
Bentley is planning a limited edition 100-car run of the Supersports to reflect this achievement, in case well-heeled buyers want to tackle the record on their own.
Hit the jump to read the official press release.
(Oulu, Finland. 15 February 2011) Finland’s four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen drove a Bentley Continental Supersports convertible on the hazardous frozen waters of the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Finland, at a breathtaking 205.48 mph (330.695 km/h) to set a new world speed record on ice.
Kankkunen was in irresistible form with his all-wheel drive, 6-litre, 12-cylinder Continental Supersports convertible which, in line with the Company’s CO2 strategy, ran on biofuel. The world’s fastest soft top enabled Juha to shatter his own 2007 world ice speed record of 199.83 mph (321.6 km/h) set in the Continental GT at the same location.
With the help of his own experienced team and Bentley engineers, Kankkunen overcame the challenges of temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees, sudden snow blizzards and potentially dangerous crosswinds on the 16.5km track on a 70cm-thick layer of sea ice. The record attempt was driven on a 1000m long measured distance with the speed certified by officials from the Finland Traffic Police. His new world record was based on the average of two runs in opposite directions with measured speeds ratified by a representative of The Guinness Book of Records.
“The last time, I narrowly missed the magical 200 mph mark in a Continental GT. When I heard about the Supersports I was determined to go record breaking again with the Bentley Boys. This time, with over 600bhp under the bonnet, a Quickshift transmission and the security of the all-wheel drive system, the Supersports convertible was the perfect car to go for the record. ” Kankkunen said.
“200mph came up after 5km on sheet ice. Then it was just a question of getting everything right in the timing zone and hoping the snow kept away. There’s nothing to beat driving a Bentley at these speeds; the conditions may be perilous but the car responds so well to the slightest adjustment which gives you the confidence to push even harder.”
As with the previous record-breaking drive in the Continental GT the Anglo-Finnish team used a car with minimum modification. A fully-welded, heavy-duty safety roll-cage, along with Pirelli winter tyres (Pirelli SottoZero II 275/40R20) and a rear bumper-mounted parachute provided reassurance in case of an emergency. Front and rear spoilers provided optimum high speed stability on the treacherous surface.
To highlight Bentley’s environmental commitment to sustainable fuel sources, Kankkunen’s Supersports Convertible was fuelled with E85 bioethanol rather than petrol (gasoline). All models in the Continental range are capable of running on petrol (gasoline), E85 bioethanol or any combination of the two.
Wolfgang Dürheimer, Bentley’s new Chairman and Chief Executive, said:
“The ice speed record is an amazing feat by Juha Kankkunen, whose skill and courage in extreme conditions truly make him one of the modern-day Bentley Boys. We will be celebrating this achievement with a very special ‘extreme’ Bentley, which will be the most powerful model ever to bear the famed Winged B emblem.”
A limited edition of just 100 examples of this most extreme Bentley will be made and the car will make its global debut at the Geneva Motor Show on 1st March. HISTORY OF WORLD ICE SPEED RECORDS
- 2011: Bentley Continental Supersports convertible: 205.48 mph (330.695 km/h) driven by Juha Kankkunen
- 2007: Bentley Continental GT: 199.83 mph (321.6 km/h) driven by Juha Kankkunen
- 1995: Bugatti EB110 Supersport: 184 mph (296 km/h)
BENTLEY’S EARLY HISTORY OF RECORD BREAKING
- 1924: John Duff in a Bentley 3-litre took records at Brooklands between 87mph (139.7 km/h) and 93 mph (149.3 km/h) and a Double-Twelve race victory at 86.69 mph (139.2 km/h)
- 1925: A Bentley 3-litre established a 24-hrs record at Montlhery at an average speed of 95 mph (152.9 km/h).
- 1927: The 24-hrs Grand Prix de Paris at Montlhery was won by a Bentley 41/2 –litre at an average speed of 52.5 mph (84.5 km/h)
- 1928: A Bentley 3-litre driven by Dudley Froy became the first car to average more than 115 mph (185.1 km/h) over a distance of 100 miles (160.9 km) at Brooklands
- 1929: Mrs Victor Bruce drove solo in a Bentley 41/2-litre at Montlhery to set a Class C record at over 89mph (143.2 km/h)
- 1932: Tim Birkin in a Birkin blower single seater broke the Brooklands Outer Circuit lap record with a speed of 137.96 mph (221.47 km/h)
- 1934: Walter Hassan in a Barnato – Hassan single seater set a new Brooklands Outer Circuit record of 142.6 mph (228.9 km/h). It achieved a faster lap time of 143.11 mph (230.3 km).