Friends actor Matt LeBlanc didn’t want to part ways with Top Gear and was “gutted” he had to leave the BBC motoring show, according to co-host Chris Harris.
The 51-year-old petrolhead quit after four series as host of the programme in order to spend more time with his family and friends.
Harris, who will remain part of the hosting team for the upcoming new run of the programme, told Digital Spy that LeBlanc loved the show and never wanted to quit.
“He's gutted he couldn't carry on doing it,” said the 44-year-old motoring journalist.
He added: “It's not because he didn't want to do it - the geography of his life didn't allow him to do it.
“You could argue he put himself out there for too long to carry on doing it. The travel for him was extraordinary.”
Harris, who has been part of the show full-time since 2017, will be joined by comedian Paddy McGuinness and cricket legend Freddie Flintoff to front the new series.
He said he is still in “regular contact” with LeBlanc, who he considers to be a “good buddy”.
He added: “I know he wishes us all the best of luck. I loved working with him, he's a top bloke."
Read more: Flintoff admits crashing five times already
LeBlanc took over as the lead presenter of Top Gear when Chris Evans stepped down after just one series at the helm.
Evans had taken the job as part of a revamped version of the show following the dismissal of Jeremy Clarkson after a backstage fracas, which led to the departure of co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May.
That trio launched rival show The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime, which has run for three series and will return for a fourth focused on overseas specials, rather than studio-focused episodes.
The 27th series of Top Gear will air on BBC Two from 16 June.