Team Bentley confirm their Le Mans target

Bentley have ended speculation surrounding their 2002 Le Mans participation — and have given a strong hint that they will tackle the 24-hour enduro in 2003, too.

Newly-announced chairman elect, Franz-Josef Paefgen, said: “I am thrilled to confirm that the Bentley Boys will be back at Le Mans this year.”

The EXP Speed 8’s design and development will remain under the stewardship of Racing Technology Norfolk, while its testing and racing programme will once again be supervised by Richard Lloyd and John Wickham at Team Bentley. A new and exclusive, increased-capacity Bentley engine is being built in conjunction with parent company, and main race rivals, Audi, but this will not be ready until March.

“Because of this,” explained Paefgen, “we believe that the real title challenge for Bentley at Le Mans will come in 2003…”

Bentley’s 2002 driver line-up is expected to be confirmed soon.

Last season, the EXP Speed 8 of Andy Wallace, Eric van de Poele and Butch Leitzinger finished second on Bentley’s long-awaited return to La Sarthe, albeit 15 laps behind the winning Audi of Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro.