Aston Martin's new DB9 model will form the basis of this new challenge from 2004
Aston Martin set for Le Mans challenge LE MANS RACE

LONDON, Dec 4 (AFP) - Aston Martin will return to the world's motor racing circuits in 2004 following the creation of a new division to be known as Aston Martin Racing.

The 89-year-old car makers, who supplied James Bond with his DB5s, return to their old niche of production-based world sports car racing - in which they won both the World Sportscar Championship title and Le Mans 24 Hours in 1959.

Aston Martin's new DB9 model will form the basis of this new challenge from 2004.

"Aston Martin is an exclusive brand, but we cannot be exclusive without being visible and motor sport is a way to heighten our profile," Aston Martin chief executive Ulrich Bez said.

"Production-based sports car series are growing in stature with many leading manufacturers returning with their own factory programmes. By competing with them we can demonstrate that our cars are not only the best on the road, but also on the racing track."

Aston Martin are following in the footsteps of Bentley who relived their glory days in June with their first victory for 73 years at Le Mans.

Bentley captured five editions of the ultimate endurance test between the First and Second World Wars.