Currently reading: Aston Martin Valkyrie will race at Le Mans in 2021
Creation of a new hypercar class enables Aston Martin to enter its 1160bhp hybrid in the 24-hour race
Felix Page Autocar writer
2 mins read
14 June 2019

Aston Martin has confirmed that its upcoming Valkyrie hypercar will take part in the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. 

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.


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11 December 2017


“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"

But doesn't Aston Martin already have a racing derivative of their road car in sportscar racing, i.e. the Vantage? And before that it was the DB9R.

Sportscar racing has, and always will be, about the cars and while fans like GT cars, they also like sports-prototypes which are the main draw, especially top flight ones like LMP1. The speed, looks and technology of these spectacular sports-prototypes are what is so fascinating to fans. Otherwise sportscar racing will just be a GT series like the half a dozen or so that already exist. Sure, GT racing is close and exciting but the cars just aren't in the same league. And for manufacturers, sportscar racing is essentially about who makes the best and fastest car over a distance while also allowing them to develop new technologies, more so with LMP1 cars. And sports-prototypes have always existed almost from day one because manufacturers started creating purpose built cars to get ahead of the opposition, so contrary to what Andy Palmer states, prototypes have always been a mainstay of sportscar racing. We've also seen extreme evolution of road cars, to the point where you question whether they're actually road cars (like the Porsche 935), while we've seen manufacturers produce true road cars developed to as far as the rule book allows in order to dominate GT categories like the Group B cars of the early 1980s and the Ford GT40 of the 1960s. All in order to beat the opposition.

If sportscar racing becomes a GT series again it will inevitably see some manufacturers exploiting the rules and at some point we will again see pure, purpose built racing cars masquerading as road cars appearing again. Just like the mid to late 1990s GT1 cars. If the FIA and ACO got their act together a few years ago, LMP1 wouldn't be on its knees, while prototypes and GTs can, have always, existed side by side in sportscar racing. Sure, it'd be great to see true GT1 cars return to sportscar racing, i.e. true road cars like the early 1990s, but not at the expense of LMP1. And if LMP1 is canned, the FIA and ACO need to be very careful about the rules to avoid the re-emergence of prototypes as road cars otherwise someone will develop a modern day 911-GT1 or Mercedes CLK-GTR and we'll end up going full circle again.

11 December 2017

I loved watching the Vantage and DBR9s race. I get the notion that the prototype category has no relevance. But... Andy P, if that's the case, then how does F1 have relevance to Aston???

11 December 2017
Speedraser wrote:

I loved watching the Vantage and DBR9s race. I get the notion that the prototype category has no relevance. But... Andy P, if that's the case, then how does F1 have relevance to Aston???


Couldn't agree more!   Aston Martin shouldn't be wasting money in F1; a series it simply can't afford.


F1 used to be for millionaires to play around.   Max Mosley described it as such, and then corrected himself by saying it's now too rich for them that you need billionaires.   And Aston Martin doesn't even turn £ 20 million profit.


Aston needs to look elsewhere to show off its cars, not just a sticker on the side of a Red Bull that everybody knows is using a Renault engine.   Seriously, has anybody been duped by that one?


12 December 2017

And rather than (potentially) developing an F1 engine -- if F1 changes the rules to make it less outrageously expensive -- build your own V8 for the road cars rather than using an off-the-shelf someone else's engine!

14 June 2019

Why not have a category where all road legal cars can race against each other?

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