A major blow has been dealt to the ACO and FIA World Endurance Championship’s plans with the cancellation of Aston Martin Racing’s Hypercar program utilizing its new Valkyrie road car.
RACER has learned a formal announcement is imminent. Reached Monday, a brand representative declined to comment on the topic.
Termination of the racing project for the 6.5-liter V12-powered machine comes on the heels of a major investment into the financially beleaguered British auto manufacturer led by Canadian Lawrence Stroll, who owns the Racing Point Formula 1 team, and will become Aston Martin’s executive chairman along with aligning the company with his F1 team in 2021.
Factory-based racing programs involving Multimatic, which builds the car on behalf of Aston Martin, and R-Motorsport, which campaigned an Aston Martin DTM entry alongside GT3 programs using the brand’s Vantage model, were expected to enter a total of four cars to open the September 2020-June 2021 FIA WEC season.
Aston Martin’s withdrawal from the new FIA WEC Hypercar class, which is set to debut in September, also places exceptional pressure on the ACO and FIA. It leaves Japanese auto brand Toyota as the only known manufacturer ready to answer the bell and go racing when the Hypercar formula debuts at Silverstone. Small American auto manufacturer Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus intends to have its SCG 007 Hypercar ready to race in 2021, and the German ByKolles outfit, which announced it would build a Hypercar, has yet to demonstrate its words have resulted in the design or creation of something real.
Last week, France’s Peugeot reconfirmed its intention to join the new top class of endurance racing in 2022 after its project partner Rebellion Racing revealed its plans to withdraw from the sport after June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although Peugeot has not officially stated whether it would build a car to the Hypercar rules since regulatory convergence was achieved between the ACO and IMSA, it’s believed the Le Mans-winning company will follow IMSA’s new-for-2022 LMDh regulations.
Nonetheless, barring the surprise appearance of a new Hypercar brand to compete alongside Toyota later this year, the formula will have a single brand in position with two cars to usher in the ACO/WEC’s new post-LMP1 era. Whether the Aston Martin news will force the ACO/WEC to reconsider its class structure in the early days of Hypercar, or opt to retain its current LMP1 structure where Toyota’s hybrid prototypes race for overall honors against non-hybrid privateers, is currently unknown.
The collapse of Aston Martin’s Valkyrie Hypercar racing effect also raises questions on the formula’s viability when convergence takes place to start the 2021-2022 WEC season, and at the onset of IMSA’s 2022 WeatherTech SportsCar championship, where Hypercars and LMDhs are meant to race together in a unified class. With a dearth of Hypercars to fill the grid, and an uptick in the number of LMDh (DPi 2.0) manufacturers anticipated for 2022, sustainability could be a significant concern for those brands which side with Hypercar regulations.
Revealed in January of 2019, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said of the Valkyrie, “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. David Brown came here in 1959, with a car and a team of drivers capable of winning. We intend to do the same in 2021.
“The Aston Martin Valkyrie is primed for such a challenge and sits perfectly within the ACO’s new Hypercar rule framework. Bringing to bear all of our previous experience and knowledge of competing at the top levels of motorsport, we embark on this most ambitious project with the necessary ingredients for success.”