Bentley has confirmed it will be competing in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2002.
Chairman-elect of Team Bentley, Franz-Josef Paefgen said: "I am thrilled that my first announcement as chairman-elect of Bentley Motors is to confirm that Team Bentley and the Bentley Boys will be back at Le Mans next year. Within the current regulations we have not been able to reach the full potential of the EXP Speed 8 and are now developing, in conjunction with Audi, a new and exclusive Bentley engine with increased capacity. In addition we will further optimise the performance of the car.
"As the new engine will not be ready before March, we believe that the real title challenge for Bentley will come in 2003. The team gained invaluable experience this year and we will be doing everything in our power to ensure Bentley is back on the podium next year, but we know we will face some very tough competition."
Team Bentley is reviewing the driver line-up for the Bentley EXP Speed 8. Confirmation of the drivers is not expected until the New Year.
Design and development of the EXP Speed 8 will be carried out by Racing Technology Norfolk while Richard Lloyd and John Wickham will again manage the test and development programme under the Team Bentley banner. Other personnel details will be confirmed in the New Year.
In June Team Bentley, led by drivers Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger and Eric van de Poele in the racing green EXP Speed 8 claimed second place, returning to the Le Mans podium for the first time in 71 years.