Trucks & SUVs We Love: 2018 Bentley Bentayga Sets New Pikes Peak SUV Record

In 1806 when Army Lieutenant Zebulon Pike attempted to make the first ascent of the mountain that would later bear his name, he was forced back by a blizzard. It is reported that Lt. Pike then declared that no man would ever reach the 14,110-foot summit. If Lt. Pike had somehow magically appeared at the base of Pikes Peak on June 24, 2018, the Bentley Boys could have buckled him into the passenger seat of a 2018 Bentley Bentayga next to driver Rhys Millen and whisked him to the summit in only 10 minutes and 49.902 seconds—a new world record for SUVs on Pikes Peak.

Production Bentley Bentayga Obliterates Old SUV Record

The 2018 Bentley Bentayga is the new king of the hill for SUVs in the Race to the Clouds. Piloted by Rhys Millen with over twenty years of hill climbing, rallying, and drifting experience, the production Bentayga took almost two minutes off the old record set by Paul Dallenbach in 2014. Even more impressive is the fact that the Pikes Peak Bentayga was a stock production model with:

  • Bentley’s W12 Biturbo engine producing 600 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque
  • ZF eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Adaptive air suspension
  • Bentley’s Dynamic Ride the world-first active electric 48V anti-roll control, and
  • Carbon ceramic brakes

The only changes made to the production Bentayga were the removal of the rear seats; replacement of the front seats with lightweight racing seats; addition of a roll cage and a fire suppression system; and choosing specific Pirelli DOT-rated tires. Millen averaged 66.5 mph up the 12.42 mile course that has 156 turns and climbs 4,720 feet from the start at mile 7 to the finish line at the summit up grades that average 7.2%.

Needless to say, Bentley’s Chris Craft, Member of the Board for Sales & Marketing was a happy camper: “This record proves the outstanding dynamic ability of the Bentayga – demonstrating again how Bentley Motors is the only automotive company in the world that can combine pinnacle luxury and breathtaking performance. Congratulations to all at Bentley Motorsport and to Rhys Millen and his team.”

Bentley Announces Special ‘Pikes Peak’ Bentayga

Bentley has announced a special Pikes Peak edition of the Bentayga that will be available for order in the U.S. and Europe in August to celebrate the new SUV record. The special edition will be created and handcrafted by Mulliner, Bentley’s in-house coachbuilding division, and will be limited to only ten examples. The Pikes Peak Bentayga will be available in either Deep Beluga Black or Radium to mimic the color of the official Pikes Peak race SUV. Exterior features include:

  • Twenty-two inch wheels finished in Beluga Black with Radium accents
  • A Black Specification package replacing the exterior chrome with gloss black trim
  • Pikes Peak logos on the front fenders
  • Carbon fiber splitter, side skirts, diffuser and rear spoiler
  • Sports exhaust system

The interior of the Pikes Peak Edition has not been neglected and will include Beluga leather with Alcantara inserts and Key Lime accents, an Alcantara steering wheel, individually numbered treadplates, and a map of the Pikes Peak hill climb course on the carbon fiber dash. The performance of the Pikes Peak Edition should match that of the regular Bentayga since both will have the Biturbo 6.0-liter W12 and the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, which produce a 0 to 62 mph time of about 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 187 mph.

Rhys Millen adds to Millen Family Racing Victories

Rhys Millen is no stranger to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, having achieved his first victory in the Open Division back in 1992. Since then, Rhys won in the High Performance Showroom Stock Division five times between 1997 and 2001, and set new world records up the hill in 2012 and 2015.

Millen comes from a racing family so his success should come as no surprise. His father Rod had an extensive worldwide rally career in his native New Zealand and in the U.S. winning several National Rally Championships, as well as the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Rod began competing in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, winning the Class C Division in 1989, the Open Class in 1991 and the Showroom Class in 1992. With a specially-built all-wheel drive Toyota Celica, Rod set the record for fastest ascent in 1994 and in each year between 1996 and 1999.

Rhys’ uncle Steve was no slouch behind the wheel either, having won the IMSA GTS championship in 1992 and 1994 in a Nissan 300ZX; the Twelve Hours of Sebring in 1993; and in 1994, a win in the Twenty-Four Hours of Daytona and a class win at the Twenty-Four Hours of Le Mans. And if that isn’t enough fast Millens for you, Rhys’ younger brother Ryan is also a highly skilled off-road racing and rally driver. There must be something in the water in New Zealand!

A Salute to Bentley for a Job Well Done

The whole project team at Bentley deserves a snappy salute for a job well-done. It’s one thing make a purpose-built race car designed for a specific course, but taking a production vehicle and making it work properly in a competition setting on a totally unique road course raises the creativity bar to a new level. The Bentley engineers did their homework to make the Bentayga, an SUV weighing over 5,300 pounds and having a relatively high center of gravity, work like a race car over the ever-changing Pikes Peak Hill Climb course.

Skilled racer Rhys Millen was appropriately impressed: “What an incredible machine. To take a luxury SUV with minimal modifications and be able to drive up this course in under 11 minutes is a huge testament to the performance and level of engineering in the Bentayga. I had a great run – the car was planted all the way up and gave me the confidence I needed to push hard. I’m delighted to take the SUV record for Bentley and for everyone that’s been involved in this project.”


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