David vs Goliath. It’s an old cliché, but for cash-poor, ambitious car execs who want to go racing, it remains a motivating factor of (literally) biblical proportions.
Take Andy Palmer, Aston Martin’s Valkyrie and the new Le Mans hypercar rules. This time next year, a racing version of the naturally aspirated nominal road car will take its bow in the World Endurance Championship against a pure-bred prototype hybrid hypercar from Toyota – the GR Super Sport. David vs Goliath. And the gold at the end of this rainbow? The race that really matters: the Le Mans 24 Hours, in 2021.
Can Aston really win Le Mans outright? That depends almost entirely on Balance of Performance – the artificial means of equalising cars of entirely different conception.
Palmer, the man at the head of a company that has just posted a near-£80 million half-year loss, really needs the Le Mans rule makers to get their sums right.
“We’re going head to head with Toyota. It’s going to be David vs Goliath,” he says. “They can outspend and out-research us, but these rules will live and die by little old David being competitive. If we are, it will attract other manufacturers.”
So just the “minimum” of two major car makers for this bright new era? “I’m optimistic that others will come the following season,” says Palmer. “They will be watching to make sure things work out in a fair and disciplined manner. Those first few races will be key.”
A partner race team, believed to be Multimatic – the outfit behind Ford’s successful GT Le Mans programme – is on board, and two more Valkyries for a second outfit could take on a pair of factory Toyotas. Then there are privateers such as Glickenhaus hard at work.