Appalling weather conditions failed to dampen the spirits of the Bentley team at the weekend's Le Mans 24 Hour Race having made a return to the sport in triumphant style.
The team, led by drivers Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger and Eric van de Poele in the racing green EXP Speed 8 claimed second place, a return to the Le Mans podium for the first time in 71 years.
They were beaten by the Audi team – Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuelle Pirro - achieving their second victory in successive years. The success means a one-two for the Volkswagen AG which owns both the brands.
A Bentley spokesman said: “It's taken a lifetime but Bentley is back where it belongs, on the podium at Le Mans. During the toughest race in a generation, Team Bentley's number 8 EXP Speed 8 Prototype defied the conditions, its newness and a total lack of weather testing to let Andy Wallace drive triumphantly over the line, second only to the all-conquering works Audis.”
MG's return to the race, 36 years after its last appearance, was also impressive. Two MG Lola EX257 cars were entered and driven by six British drivers, Car 33 Mark Blundell, Julian Bailey, Kevin McGarrity, and Car 34 Anthony Reid, Warren Hughes and Jonny Kane. The team reached third place at one point and Mr McGarrity achieved fastest driver on the track in torrential rain, before an oil leak led to the team's withdrawal just after the 12-hour mark.
Car 34 pulled out after 4 1/2 hours with low oil pressure.
Rob Oldaker, MG Sport and Racing managing director, said: “We are immensely proud to have brought MG back to Le Mans and frankly it has been beyond our expectations to have been running as high as third and to have completed more than half the race time.
“This has always been our learning year and now we are confident that we will have the right package to make MG even more successful next year.”