New rules put in place by Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), Le Mans’ governing body, effectively replace the top-rung LMP1 category, a field in which Toyota’s Gazoo Racing has been the only factory-backed team since the departures of Porsche and Audi, with a new ‘hypercar’ class.
Aston Martin, along with McLaren and Ferrari, had been campaigning for race-prepared versions of roadgoing hypercars to be allowed to participate in the famous endurance race, with the vision that such a category would make it more affordable for manufacturers to partake and thus encourage more works teams.
The new regulations allow the bodywork of competing cars to take more obvious brand design cues, meaning they will more closely resemble their production counterparts.
Active aerodynamics will also be permitted, because such technology has started to become more relevant to roadgoing vehicles.
Aston Martin says at least two Valkyries will be specially developed for entry into the 2020/21 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The Valkyrie, a collaboration between Aston Martin and Red Bull Advanced Technologies, produces a combined 1160bhp and 546lb ft from a Cosworth-developed 6.5-litre V12 and a 160bhp electric motor supplied by British firm Integral Powertrain. The battery system is from Croatian EV manufacturer Rimac.
Technical details of the racing Valkyrie remain scarce, but Aston has confirmed that it will receive a track-prepped variant of the high-revving V12 and retain its distinctive carbonfibre bodywork. The FIA has implemented a 980kg limit on cars in the new hypercar class – just below the Valkyrie’s estimated one-tonne kerb weight.
The announcement comes as Gaydon marks the 60th anniversary of its DBR1/300 racer taking first and second place in the 1959 race, while the 2021 event will take place on the centenary of the British brand's first Le Mans entry.
Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said: “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.”
It remains to be seen which manufacturers will challenge Aston Martin for victory in the hypercar division, but the McLaren Speedtail and recently revealed Ferrari SF90 Stradale seem obvious candidates for homologation.
Aston Martin will use this year’s event to display a newly completed DB4 GT Zagato Continuation model, the first of 19, which was hand-built over 4500 hours at the firm’s heritage centre in Newport Pagnell.