Aston Martin could be taking the Valkyrie to Le Mans
The WEC is in somewhat of a crisis with regards to its top tier category of racing. LMP1 has collapsed in on itself, with Porsche bailing after many years of success with its 919 Hybrid. It's only Toyota that currently has an LMP1 programme on the go, piling pressure on the FIA and ACO to change the rules for entry into the pinnacle of endurance racing. And as if they needed any more incentive to change things up, Aston Martin has declared that it could take its Valkyrie hypercar racing if the rules were to change.
Speaking to Autocar, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer admitted that the FIA had been in contact with him with regards to the future regulations of endurance racing: "They were debating the future of LMP1 and asked me for my view. My personal perspective is very clear: Aston Martin will never compete in a prototype category because it has no relevance to us. But if they allowed racing derivatives of road cars, that would be very interesting to us and, I suspect, the fans.
“Road-derived race cars fighting for the win is in keeping with the history of sportscar and Le Mans racing, and the prospect of the likes of Valkyrie fighting against McLaren P1, LaFerrari and more would be interesting to more than just me, I suspect.”
There have already been twitterings about bringing back GT specifications to Le Mans, with the aim being to bring the ultimate Le Mans racers closer to the road legal supercars sold from regular showrooms. With a history including the Porsche 911 GT1, Mercedes CLK LM and Nissan R390 GT1, road-based racers would certainly be a welcome reintroduction to sportscar racing.
The Ian Callum-designed Nissan R390 GT1 was a stunning entrant to endurance racing during the heyday of GT1.
The aformentioned Valkyrie has been developed through a technical partnership between Aston Martin and Red Bull, featuring a thoroughly functional aerodynamic design by F1 legend Adrian Newey. Powered by a V12 producing somewhere in the region of 900-1000bhp, the Valkyrie features Venturi tunnels, canards and splitters the likes of which we've never seen utilised in a road car design. Aston has also revealed that a track-only AMR Pro version is in the pipeline, a car that would very much pave the way for a GT Le Mans programme.
Allowing a car such as the Valkyrie into endurance racing could also open the door to the likes of the Mercedes-AMG Project One to compete in the same category, leading to potentially one of the most titanic Le Mans battles since the days of Group C. And with Porsche, Ferrari and BMW also having the potential to add to the latest breed of hypercars, GT1 could be coming back with a bang.
What other manufacturers would you like to see enter a top spec GT car for future Le Mans races? Or maybe you wish the FIA would go down a different route for the top shelf of the WEC? Comment with your thoughts below!