Bentley pulls out of Le Mans

Bentley has confirmed that it will not return to the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, despite dominating this year's running of the round-the-clock French sportscar classic

Bentley pulls out of Le Mans

The German-owned British marque returned to Le Mans in 2001, and after promising results went on to crush the opposition in this year's event with its pair of Speed 8 machines which finished 1-2.

"Le Mans is part of our rich heritage and is very important to us," said Bentley chairman and CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen. "It has also helped us revive the unique spirit of Bentley and it has created a new motorsport heritage for the marque, but when we announced our return in November 2000 we always said this would be a three-year programme.

"In the past three Le Mans we have been more successful than we could have dreamed, culminating in first and second places for the Bentley Speed 8 at this most famous of races this year."

Paefgen has not ruled out a return to racing in the future, but would not be drawn on any future motorsport programmes.

"I'm not saying we are leaving motorsport for good, and we will certainly continue to review our position," he added. "But being pragmatic, all our efforts need to be concentrated on the next phase of our regeneration, and our priority is delivering a new range of Bentleys to our rapidly expanding customer base."

The decision leaves the door open for sister company Audi to return to Le Mans as a works team with a new generation of its open-top prototype sportscar.

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