The Bentley Continental GT3 has made its long-awaited debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Powered by a Cosworth-tuned, dry-sumped 441kW naturally aspirated version of the Continental GT V8’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre engine, the Bentley Continental GT3 outguns the 423kW twin-turbo V12-powered Continental GT and falls just shy of the GT Speed’s 449kW.

Weighing less than 1300kg, though, the GT3 racer is 1033kg lighter than a standard Continental GT.

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Dictated to by steering wheel-mounted paddles, an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox, carbonfibre propshaft and a limited slip differential combine to transmit power exclusively to the Continental GT3’s rear wheels, rather than using the all-wheel-drive system employed by its road-going siblings.

Previewed by the Bentley Continental GT3 concept race car unveiled at the 2012 Paris motor show, the racer also gets double wishbone suspension front and rear, four-way adjustable racing dampers, and a brake package from Brembo comprising a driver-adjustable brake bias switch, slotted and ventilated discs and six-piston calipers front and four-piston calipers rear.

The exterior features a carbonfibre front splitter, rear wing and body panels, along with lightweight, bumpers, bonnet, sills and fenders and black 18-inch OZ Racing wheels wrapped in 310mm-wide Pirelli PZero rubber.

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The Continental GT’s standard leather and wood interior trim has been stripped in favour of an FIA-specification steel roll cage, a race seat with Sparco six-point safety harness, an on-board fire extinguisher and an on-board pneumatic jack system. Keeping the marque's reputation for luxury alive, the steering wheel, door pulls and seat are all hand-trimmed and stitched by Bentley’s team at Crewe.

Bentley member of the board for engineering Rolf Frech says the brand has worked hard to ensure the car performs competitively.

“We’ve removed over 1000kg of weight, reconfigured our 4.0-litre V8 to produce 600bhp in race specification, and developed a comprehensive aerodynamic package."

"We are now looking forward to getting the car on the track and proving its potential.”

The Bentley Continental GT3 will now continue its development program, before making its competitive debut in the 2014 FIA Blancpain Series.

Watch the clip below to hear the new racer in action.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JceguWBMuik#at=39