Deliveries of the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro - the track-only version of the V12 powered hypercar that the company promises offers an equivalent level of performance to a top-flight race car - have finally begun.
To celebrate the fact they also let a small group of journalists experience it from the passenger seat at the Homestead track in Florida, becoming the first people outside the company and the customer base to have the chance to feel its full brutality.
While the while Valkyrie project has gone well beyond its original timescale, and the Formula 1 connection between Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing that underpinned it has since been dissolved, Aston says it is on track to deliver more than 75 of the road-going Valkyrie and the track-only AMR Pro to customers this year.
Meeting the Pro up close also got the chance to see some of the many differences that separate it from the regular car, with Aston Creative Director Marek Reichmann talking us through the changes. As well as a longer wheelbase the track-only car has a different tub featuring even lighter construction and some dimensional changes allowed by the lack of road homologation.
“The car was designed to keep the packaging as tight as possible around the constraints of a human being and an engine,” Reichmann said, “that’s it - there’s nothing else, we don’t have a millimetre of spare space. It’s almost exoskeletal in its design, the tub is the structure, there’s no cladding in it.”
Touring car and sportscar veteran racer Andy Priaulx has been one of the Valkyrie AMR Pro development drivers since shortly after the program began, and says he was very happy to be asked to work on it as his competitive motorsport career wound down. “To be honest I didn’t think I’d get the chance to drive anything as quick as this again,” he says. Apart from a testing a Williams F1 car in 2005, he reckons the AMR Pro isn’t far off being the fastest car he’s experienced.
“Today’s all about giving a taste of what the car can do, but the whole point of the programme has been to make it drivable,” he said, “the guys who are spending their money on these are going to want to enjoy them, and there’s no point in making something that only a professional will be able to get near the limits of.”