The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is probably the most prestigious hill climb in the world. Winning at Pikes Peak, or achieving a record time, can add significant kudos to a model or brand. Bentley clearly see the marketing potential as they have been preparing a Bentley Bentayga for the 2018 event.

Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Colorado mountain features a paved road which goes right to the summit at 4,302 metres. The 19.99 km route features 156 turns and climbs 1,440 metres, making it an extremely difficult prospect of any car.

Bentley’s Bentayga has completed a six month development program and is aiming to take the record for a production SUV. Two-time champion Rhys Millen has been drafted in to consult on how the company might achieve its goal with the W12 powered SUV.

The car itself is no different from what you would expect to purchase from a certified Bentley dealership. Bentley have simply complied with the regulations by fitting a roll cage, fire suppression system and racing seat, plus new tyres from Pirelli’s DOT-marked range. They have also been forced to temporarily remove around 300 kg of interior trim to comply with event rules.

Aside from this, the only substantial amendment is an Akrapovic exhaust system. The Radium Satin paintwork and Bentley’s Styling Specification kit – adding a carbon fibre front splitter, diffuser, side skirts and aerodynamic rear spoiler – can all be ordered direct from the factory.

Driver Rhys Millen said:

“We’ve honed the Bentayga’s incredible abilities and ensured we have a car for Pikes Peak that’s both safe and fast through two very productive test sessions with the Bentley Motorsport team. 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, 664 lb ft (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. I can’t wait to get started at the mountain later this week.”

The current production SUV record appears to be held by the 510 hp Range Rover Sport, which completed the course in 12 minutes 35.61 seconds in 2013.

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