As expected, Audi has confirmed that it will not send a factory team of its dominant R8s to the Le Mans 24 Hours, according to this week's AUTOSPORT.
VW-Audi group sports boss Franz-Josef Paefgen told the German press that the works Joest team will not run cars in the famous race, meaning the marque will only be represented by privately-entered cars.
German magazine Autofocus quoted Paefgen as saying: "[Audi] will not be entering a works team in 2003, only one or two customer cars."
The customer cars in question are likely to be run by Champion Racing and Team Goh, both of whom have already confirmed their intention to enter Le Mans next year. It if unclear if the teams will be able to update their 2001 R8s to the latest 2002 specification.
The withdrawal of Audi leaves the path clear for sister VW-owned marque Bentley to challenge for overall honours with a revised version of its EXP Speed 8 coupe. "[Bentley's] technically reworked car is quicker than the last Le Mans winner [the Audi]," said Paefgen, "so we expect to have a fair chance of victory."
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