Vice President of Aston Martin Lagonda David King confirmed that the British marque is still pursuing a 2020 LMP1/hypercar/GTP program in the FIA WEC.
Off the back of changes to the IMSA class structure – something AMR isn’t interested in – and reports that certain ‘blue chip’ manufacturers have left the 2020 technical working group, RACER understands that the reality at present seems to be rather less bleak than presented elsewhere. However, there are now urgent calls from the British marque and a number of other interested parties for more clarity on the rules and in particular on the budgets required.
“We’re looking at everything (referring to DTM as well), and at racing opportunities, but the core of what we do is sports car racing and racing GT cars,” King told RACER at Silverstone. “It’s not a secret that we’re interested in the new LMP class, and we are in the technical working groups. There are no decisions or commitments at this stage, but we’re very interested.
“If we get it right as a family of manufacturers it will be amazing for the sport to get three or five manufacturers fighting with hypercar-based race cars.
“But it’s like a poker game – we’re all sitting with our cards close to our chest,” he continued. “The thing I’m most worried about is September 2020 as it’s such a short time scale to get lots of new cars on the grid. Unless a company has already got funding and board approval to work on a car, it’d be difficult to get a car ready, especially as the full regulations don’t exist yet. There’s another working group meeting in Paris.
“We’d love to support it. If the opportunity is right, I hope we’d take it.”
Should a program be approved, King explained that there’s real potential for the car to be offered to customer teams, as he feels that it could be far more viable for multiple private teams to come forward and race manufacturer cars.
“There’s a long way to go in evaluating the GTP option. There’s a lot of steps but if the regs go where we want – if we decide to do it, if we can fund it, if we develop and build a car – then of course we’d be interested in selling it to customer race teams.
“I think you’ll see that across all the manufacturers because the cars aren’t as complex, and there won’t be as much IP buried in the cars. It’ll be easier and better for the business case if the factories can sell cars to top-end private teams.”
Any LMP program in the future won’t have an effect on its GTE efforts as a factory. King stressed that if Aston Martin committed to the new formula, its GT racing program wouldn’t be sacrificed.
“Whatever happens with new LMP, we are committed to GTE racing for the long term,” he affirmed. “It’s the core of what we do – we’ve been in GT cars since we came back in 2005. We’re committed to another four seasons, I don’t see any change there; we’ll always race GT cars.”
On the subject of IMSA and its recent Prototype class split announcement, King reiterated that Aston Martin is interested in racing there although, as RACER reported back in May, in GTLM with a rather than in DPi.
“We’re looking for a partner still, and ideally we want to be in GTLM. America is a massive market and it’s frustrating that we’re not there yet. We haven’t looked at DPi – we follow it, but we haven’t looked at participating.”