Winning Bentley Boys Regroup for Le Mans 2002 New Bentley Engine and 2003 Programme Confirmed

Crewe, 30 January 2002…. Bentley Motors confirmed today that the winning line up of Bentley Boys Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger and Eric van de Poele would be back at the wheel of the Bentley EXP Speed 8 for this year’s assault on the world’s most challenging motor race – the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Bentley Motors Chairman elect Franz-Josef Paefgen said: "It will be good to have the Le Mans class winning team back in the Bentley EXP Speed 8. 2002 will be a very important development year for Team Bentley as we will have the new Bentley engine in the race car for the first time.

"I can confirm that the powerplant will be a 4.0 litre twin turbocharged, direct injection engine, which will be unique to Bentley and developed in close cooperation with Audi. As the engine will not be ready for testing in the car until March, we will have a single entry at Le Mans for 2002, but we plan to carry out extensive testing throughout the rest of this year with the possibility of an additional race later in the season.

"Furthermore, we know there is a great deal of potential in the chassis, so we intend to develop a next generation EXP Speed 8 for the 2003 season. With this new Bentley, which we will roll out by the beginning of next year, we plan a fully competitive assault beginning in Sebring in March and, of course including Le Mans in June.

"We would like to repeat, if not better, our 2001 podium position this year, but believe me we are definitely aiming for the top step in 2003 with the new car!" concluded Paefgen.

Team Bentley will continue its intensive test programme leading up to the race, and development of the new Dunlop tyres continues apace with encouraging results.

The Drivers

Andy Wallace has won every important sportscar race – Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona, Petit Le Mans – all have succumbed to his speed and consistency making him one of the greatest sportscar drivers of all time, and the most successful British driver currently in the discipline. And not only has he won these races, he goes back and wins them again as his three wins at Daytona and two at Sebring bear witness.

Butch Leitzinger has spent the bulk of his career driving in his native United States. Like Andy Wallace he counts himself among the tiny number of drivers to have won the Daytona 24 hours three times – he is a double World Sportscar Champion and CanAm champion too. Suffice to say that On Track magazine named him their sportscar driver of the decade.

Eric van de Poele is one of the very few drivers to have scored back to back victories in the Sebring 12-hours. He has raced at Le Mans seven times, winning the Le Mans Prototype category in 1998 despite having to drive over half the race himself due to a team-mate falling ill.

Published : 31/01/02 Author : Melanie Carter

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