The Adrian Newey-designed Aston Martin Valkyrie is due to race at Le Mans under new regulations in 2021.
The regulations for the top level of the World Endurance Championship are due to change for the 2020/2021 season to allow manufacturers to race cars derived from road-going hypercars.
Aston Martin became the first manufacturer to commit to the new regulations shortly after they were announced ahead of this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race. Later in the same day, Toyota also confirmed its plans to continue at the top level of WEC with a new hypercar for both road and track that is currently under development in Cologne.
In order to comply with the new regulations, at least 20 road-going versions of the Le Mans racers have to be produced, although Aston Martin will easily reach this target having already committed to producing 150 Valkyries for the road.
According to the ACO — Le Mans’ governing body — the idea of the new regulations is to create a « level playing field » at the top class of sports car racing. The details of the regulations are set to be approved by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council later this month and will include a minimum weight of 1100kg and powertrain output of 750bhp with the option of running a hybrid system. A balance of performance formula is set to be part of the regulations to ensure the series remains competitive.
Aston Martin has confirmed its new Le Mans racer will use a bespoke version of the normally-aspirated 6.5 litre V12 Cosworth engine used in the road-going Valkyrie. As a result it should sound fantastic.
« We have always said that we would one day bring Aston Martin back to Le Mans with the intention of going for the outright win when the time was right — now is that time, » Aston Martin president and CEO Andy Palmer said. « David Brown came here in 1959, with a car and a team of drivers capable of winning. We intend to do the same in 2021.
« The Aston Martin Valkyrie is primed for such a challenge and sits perfectly within the ACO’s new ‘hypercar’ rule framework. Bringing to bear all of our previous experience and knowledge of competing at the top levels of motorsport, we embark on this most ambitious project with the necessary ingredients for success. What could be more evocative than the wail of an Aston Martin V12 leading the charge into the night on the Mulsanne straight? «
The new rules were designed to coax manufacturers like Aston Martin back into the top level of WEC and were also aimed at luring back Ferrari after a 46-year absence of a Scuderia-backed factory car from the top level of racing at Le Mans. However, Ferrari and American motor giant Ford both withdrew from roundtable talks about the hypercar category last year.
McLaren is still assessing whether it will return to Le Mans in the new category, with CEO Zak Brown saying a decision would be made soon.
« Now we’ve got the rule book, we are seriously looking at bringing McLaren back to endurance racing, » Brown told the Le Mans website. « We wanted to be able to use a car we already make with technology we already have. And it looks like the new regulations will permit that.
« We like the look of the rules and we are considering taking part in the next WEC. If we want to take part in the 2020-21 season, we’ve no time to lose. Which means we’ll be deciding soon. If we commit to the WEC, it will be a completely separate campaign to F1. »